SILVER SPRING, MD – Median household incomes in Montgomery County dropped 4.8 percent in the last few years, reflecting the impacts of the worst national recession in decades, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey.
Yet, Montgomery County, with a median income of $89,155 in 2010, continues to see relatively high wealth and has the second highest household income in Maryland behind Howard County.
Throughout most of the last decade, Montgomery County retained its high income status. The county’s median household income peaked in 2007 at $96,422, in inflation-adjusted dollars, and remained relatively unchanged through 2009. Its stability throughout most of the decade shows resiliency as other areas declined economically starting mid-decade. But between 2009 and 2010, the county’s median income dropped more than $7,000.
Fairfax County, Va., to which Montgomery County is often compared because of its size and proximity to Washington, D.C., also saw household incomes peak in 2007. Fairfax County’s median income has been more than $100,000 for the last decade. However, while Montgomery County retained its household wealth into 2009, Fairfax’s median income began declining annually as soon as the recession hit; since 2007, median income in both counties dropped from their peaks – a 7.5 percent decline in Montgomery County, 6.6 percent in Fairfax.
The American Community Survey takes a comprehensive look at economic, social and demographic trends. Demographers at the Planning Department analyze Census data to better understand community needs as Montgomery County changes from decade to decade.
Montgomery County is not alone in seeing declining incomes. The Wall Street Journal reported that the top 10 highest-earning U.S. cities saw median incomes fall an average of 6.5 percent in the decade. Overall, the Washington region, including Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Howard, and Montgomery counties, ranks as the wealthiest of 1 million-plus metropolitan areas.
Montgomery County’s population grew 11.3 percent in the decade to 971,777 residents. In that time, the county saw significant demographic shifts, including growth in the elderly population (more than 12 percent of residents are 65 and older, many with shrinking retirement income) and a significant increase in the number of unemployed young adults. Finally, Montgomery County had the highest rate of attracting foreign-born immigrants, who typically are younger and experience a period of earning less as they become established in a new place.
“Montgomery County continues to attract immigrants and diversify, which positions the county well for future economic recovery,” said Planning Director Rollin Stanley.
Minorities are creating more new businesses in Montgomery County than other groups, and a diverse workforce also is better for businesses, which typically need a range of workers. It can be challenging for wealthy communities to attract large employers because they cannot fill jobs on each end of the spectrum.
The decrease in the county’s household income spans all levels. Households with incomes of $200,000 or higher fell from 16.5 percent in 2007 to 14.9 percent in 2010. Declining incomes for the wealthy likely contributes to swelling public school populations, planners say, because families are pulling children from expensive private schools. Fairfax County had 18 percent of households in 2010 earning more than $200,000.
Meanwhile, families were more likely to become impoverished. In 2007, 2.8 percent of Montgomery County families were identified as living in poverty in 2007; in 2010, that increased to 4.9 percent. The percentage of female-headed households experiencing poverty increased even more, from 9.5 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in 2010. About 5.8 percent of Fairfax County residents live in poverty, with female-headed households making up 14.5 percent.
The Census shows an increase in households renting, from 29 percent in 2006 to 33 percent in 2010. Nearly half of those renter households paid more than $1,500 per month in rent.
The median income drop affirms the need for planners to create more diverse housing options for residents. With declining incomes, some households will opt for more affordable attached housing and multi-family housing. Others will locate nearer to jobs to reduce commuting costs.
Planners are working to develop opportunities for diverse housing in current master plans.
SILVER SPRING, MD – The largest leap in Montgomery County’s population occurred in Germantown, which added close to 20,000 residents in the last decade. Germantown’s 2010 population was 86,395, and includes a 149-percent jump in the Hispanic population. Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority group in the county.
Demographic experts in the county Planning Department analyzing the 2010 Census data released Tuesday identified population characteristics for communities such as Germantown, Wheaton, Aspen Hill, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Fairland and Silver Spring to create a snapshot of the people who live in the county.
Their analysis also helps planners better understand the communities where they work. For example, accurate demographics advance current planning efforts in the East County Science Center and Burtonsville Commercial Crossroads by providing insight into community needs.
Germantown, a community of about 13,000 acres that straddles I-270 north of Gaithersburg, began drawing people in the 1990s. The former farming community had been identified in the 1960s-era General Plan to be one of several Corridor Cities along I-270.
The 2009 Germantown Master Plan calls for the community to be a commercial and cultural center for upper Montgomery County. The plan built upon a multi-cultural trend in Germantown: the Census reveals that all minority populations grew significantly; in addition to Hispanics, it saw gains in the Asian/Pacific Islander population by 119 percent and blacks by 60 percent.
Approved and adopted by the County Council in October 2009, the Germantown plan covers 2,400 acres and creates a vision for areas with a mix of residential and retail served by MARC commuter rail and the future Corridor Cities Transitway, a proposed light rail or rapid bus transit system running from Shady Grove to Clarksburg. The plan also highlights new zoning tools and design guidelines that will encourage a more lively walkable, sustainable environment for the emerging suburban center.
County planners analyzing the Census data also document the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in such communities as Wheaton, Aspen Hill, and Gaithersburg. The Asian/Pacific Islander population also grew in Rockville, Clarksburg and North Potomac. The African American population increased in Germantown, Fairland and Montgomery Village, but at slower rates than the other minority groups.
Clarksburg had highest percentage increase in population, gaining 11,295 residents, or a 480- percent increase from the year 2000 level of 2,371.
Learn more about population trends in Montgomery County.
With a total population of close to 1 million, Montgomery County is Maryland’s most populous county and ranks second in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. region to Fairfax County, whose population stands at 1,081,726.
SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery County’s population has grown more diverse over the last decade, becoming a majority-minority county for the first time, according to recently released 2010 U.S. Census data. The figures are based on 50.7 percent of residents identifying themselves as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian or Pacific Islander or an ethnicity other than non-Hispanic White.
Of the estimated 971,777 people living in Montgomery County, the Census data breaks down the population as follows:
- 50.7 percent other than non-Hispanic White (Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian or Pacific Islander)
- 49.3 percent non-Hispanic White, down 7.8 percent in the last decade
- 17 percent Hispanic or Latino, up 64.4 percent in the last decade
- 16.6 percent Black or African American, up 25 percent in the last decade
- 13.9 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, up 37.5 percent in the last decade
Access more data about population trends in Montgomery and neighboring counties.
The gains in the minority population fueled Montgomery County’s growth of 11.3 percent — or 98,436 people — since 2000. With a total population of close to 1 million, Montgomery County is Maryland’s most populous county and ranks second in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. region to Fairfax County, whose population stands at 1,081,726.
“Those places in America that are attractive to new people are the places that will prosper,” said Planning Director Rollin Stanley. “The increase in minority population is a solid foundation for our county. Most new businesses will be started by people in the minority community. This will add to the retailing, services and cultural diversity of the county, which benefits everyone.”
People of Hispanic or Latino origin is not only the largest minority group, but also the fastest-growing group, gaining 64.4 percent since 2000. “Hispanic” or “Latino” is a self-identified label applied by people based on their family origin and culture and can include people of any race.
Last decade’s housing bubble and the economic recession dampened growth compared to the 16-percent population gains Montgomery County saw in the 1990s.