Carol Morello and Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post, August 2, 2010
Prince George’s [Prince George’s County, Maryland] residents personify many demographic and socioeconomic trends playing out among African Americans on a national level. In 2008, about half of the black households in the county made more than $75,000 a year, more than a quarter had four-year college degrees and unmarried women far outnumbered their married counterparts.
New census statistics from data collected in 2007 and 2008 show that an increasing number of African Americans across the country are becoming more like those in Prince George’s, as well as closer to the national demographic norm. Many blacks made strides during the past decade, with education levels and incomes rising faster than those of the U.S. population as a whole.
In 2008, 20 percent of African Americans had a bachelor’s or advanced degree, a 19 percent jump from 2000. The percentage of black households making more than $75,000 has gone up 42 percent since 1999, from about 13 percent to 18 percent.
Despite the significant gains made by African Americans, there are still large and persistent disparities between blacks and whites in income, education and poverty rates, the national census numbers show. Whites are twice as likely as blacks to be in the upper-income brackets, and African Americans are three times more likely to be living in poverty.
The 2008 census statistics show that 46 percent of blacks in the United States have never married, and barely a third are married. In part that’s because blacks tend to be about six years younger than the general population, with a median age of 30.
In Prince George’s, 42 percent of black adults have never married. In a reversal from early in the decade, there are more African American women who have never married than there are married black women.
Michael Dawson, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, said black women are more likely to be single because of the high number of jailed African American men and because black women tend to obtain higher levels of education than black men, narrowing their options for a mate who is available and similarly educated.
Marsh said her research has shown that African American women are marrying later in life, if at all, and postponing having children.
According to the Prince George’s planning department, more African American women made more than $75,000 than any other group, and their ranks are growing the fastest.
Although previous census data have shown an exodus of wealthier black residents from Prince George’s to neighboring Charles County, there are still indications that people are moving into the nation’s most affluent majority-black county.
Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said his neighborhood in Cheverly has seen an influx of new residents, many from Capitol Hill, in recent years.
“There was a time when middle-class African Americans moved out of D.C. because of schools and crime, but now people aren’t leaving because it’s undesirable, it’s because it’s unaffordable,” said Ivey, noting that his new neighbors often make well more than $75,000.
The median income in Prince George’s has risen steadily, from about $58,000 in 2002 to $72,000 in 2008, the last year for which figures are available. Despite the toll taken by Prince George’s having the highest number of foreclosures in the state and the recession, many residents say they remain optimistic about the future.