A family needs to make a bit over $84,000 to be considered middle class in Arlington.
That’s according to a new list compiled by the financial website SmartAsset. To be in the upper income tier, a household needs to make more than $250,000.
SmartAsset used Census data and the Pew Research definition of middle-income households to figure out the bounds of middle income in all 50 states and the 100 largest localities in the U.S.
At $251,302, Arlington has the third-highest upper bound of middle income in the country, according to the list. The median household income in Arlington, meanwhile, is just over $125,000.
Arlington is comparable to No. 2 San Jose, Calif., in Silicon Valley, which has an upper bound of $252,754. Topping the list is another Silicon Valley locality, Fremont, at $311,936. Fremont, home to a major Tesla manufacturing plant, has a lower bound is $104,499, making it the only city on the list where you can make six figures and be considered lower-income.
SmartAsset said education and proximity propelled Arlington into the top 3.
Arlington, situated on the banks of the Potomac River, benefits from its proximity to Washington D.C. and a highly-educated workforce. Over 76% of residents 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, more than double the national average. The federal government is Arlington’s top employer, with the Department of Defense and a number of other agencies based there. Middle class households here earn up to $251,302 per year, while those earning less than $84,186 miss the threshold.
“A family income of $200,000 once felt like a milestone salary, but today, that qualifies as ‘middle class’ in several parts of the country,” a spokesperson for the site said.
This week the GazetteLeader reported that the average single-family home price in Arlington has reached $1.37 million.
The top 5 localities on the SmartAsset list are all tech-centric to some degree. Arlington, of course, is the home of Amazon’s HQ2 and numerous startups. No. 4 San Francisco needs no introduction and No. 5 Seattle is host to Amazon’s main headquarters.
On a statewide level, Virginia has a middle income lower bound of $54,245 and an upper bound of $161,926. That compares to $60,359 and $180,176 for D.C., $60,436 and $180,406 for Maryland, and $34,336 and $102,496 for West Virginia.
(Updated 11:20 a.m.) Arlington has the second highest work-from-home rates in the nation, U.S. Census Bureau data from 2021 show.
The county falls just behind Fremont, a city in California’s Silicon Valley that is home to numerous tech companies, while D.C. ranks third. And within the metro D.C. area, the remote work population in northern Arlington specifically is second in size only to the central and downtown parts of the District.
People who study these trends, like Economic Innovation Group economists Adam Ozimek and Eric Carlson, say Arlington’s high ranking does not surprise them. They analyzed data on remote work for ARLnow, comparing the 46 commuting zones that make up the D.C. area.
At 55%, “North Arlington has one of the highest work-from-home rates in the D.C. region,” said EIG Chief Economist Ozimek. “Even South Arlington does pretty well in terms of the region overall, 43% is high overall, even though the income divide you can see.”
Looking at five-year population estimates, they found that the D.C. area as a whole topped the charts with a 34% telework share overall, followed by San Francisco (33%) and Austin (32%). San Jose and Seattle came in fourth and fifth, and much larger cities, including Chicago and New York City, ranked 18th and 20th with teleworkers comprising around 23% of the workforce.
“The D.C. area is just about as work-from-home as we would expect based on underlying factors,” Ozimek said. “Higher-educated places have more work from home. More expensive places have higher rates of working from home. And occupation matters: you’ve got a lot of skilled workers in general. The more skill, the more likely it is to be remote.”
Arlington, he said, has some of the highest average home values and education levels in the region. In addition, nearly half of jobs in the D.C. area can be done remotely, compared to other parts of the country, like Las Vegas and Grand Rapids, Michigan, where 30% or fewer jobs can be done remotely, they found.
While the pandemic precipitated this pivot to remote work, working from home — at least a few days a week — appears to be settling in as a permanent fixture of how many Arlingtonians get their jobs done.
And that is impacting Arlington County’s record-high office vacancy rate, which reached 20.8% during the second quarter of 2022. The county generates 45% of its property tax revenue from taxes on commercial properties like office building, helping to fund Arlington schools and county services while taking some of the pressure off of homeowners.
The office vacancy rate is higher now — with masks no longer required and vaccines and boosters readily available — than it when the pandemic first took hold (16.6%) and at the beginning of 2021 (18.7%).
“The challenges are really deep,” County Manager Mark Schwartz told the County Board last week. “Long-term leases are becoming rarer. To ask people who used to come to the office five days a week to do so again… might not be met with universal acclaim from those who used to drive into the office five days a week.”
Arlington County continues to be one of the top localities regionally and nationwide for residents using public transit to commute to and from work, recent census data shows.
Earlier this year, a trove of U.S. census data was released. While much of it remains in need of analyzing, some enterprising researchers are pulling from 2020 data sets to drill down on very specific questions, like which counties have the highest percentage of workers using public transportation to commute.
Arlington is No. 10 among U.S. counties, with 27% of residents using public transportation for work commuting, according to one researcher’s parsing of the data.
Counties by % of workers using public transportation to work:
1. Kings, NY (61%)
2. Bronx, NY (60%)
3. New York, NY (59%)
4. Queens, NY (51%)
5. Hudson, NJ (43%)
6. San Francisco, CA (35%)
7. Washington, DC (35%)
8. Suffolk, MA (32%)
9. Richmond, NY (30%)
10. Arlington, VA (27%)
— Siddharth Khurana (@SidKhurana3607) December 1, 2021
A county official said the data does line up with the county’s own findings.
“The numbers, overall, don’t surprise me because Arlington has been focused for a really long time on building a community that maximizes travel options and has really rebuilt itself around rail and more recently, focused on bus,” says Arlington’s Transportation Bureau Chief Dennis Leach.
However, he notes that 2020 data should be “approached with a lot of caution” due to COVID’s impact on public transit use and the challenging task of collecting data through the pandemic year.
In 2010, according to Census data, an estimated 28.5% of Arlingtonians used public transportation to commute to and from work. By 2019, that number ticked up slightly to 29.7%.
While preliminary 2020 data shows a nearly 3% decrease in public transit use by Arlington workers, Leach notes that it’s really hard to make an apples to apples comparison to previous years due to remote work, a shift in commuter patterns, and the lack of travel in general — all of which are related to the pandemic.
“I don’t think we’re actually to see really good [transit] data… until sometime in 2022 or even maybe as far out as a full year later, in 2023,” Leach says.
What is clear, according to Leach, is that Arlington is much less auto-dependent than other local jurisdictions.
Dr. Delario Lindsey, a professor at Arlington’s Marymount University who is studying urban development and equality, agrees that there’s been a considerable effort to make public transportation more accessible in Arlington in recent years. He says the county is currently doing a “decent job” in developing and building infrastructure that’s more accommodating to non-car-related travel, driven by the desires of a younger generation.
“There’s been an identifiable generational shift by millennials and post-millennials to not to be as car-dependent,” Lindsey says. “[They] want to live in communities that tend to be more accessible to public transportation, or be walkable, or bike-friendly.”
In Arlington, this is reflected in the immense growth of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor over the last decade, which has a number of rail and bus transit options.
While Lindsey notes as well that 2020 and 2021 statistics won’t be able to tell a complete picture, he fully expects that the number of Arlingtonians using public transportation to commute to and from work will only grow over the next several years.
“I’d bet on that trend to keep going up,” he says.
Arlington is denser and more diverse than it was 10 years ago, according to recently-released 2020 Census data.
The population living within the county’s 26 square miles now sits at 238,643 — a 14.9% increase over 2010, when 207,627 people called Arlington home. That outpaced the rate of population growth for Virginia and the U.S. as a whole, at 7.9% and 7.4%, respectively.
Meanwhile, the county is more diverse today than it was a decade ago: Arlington’s white population declined by 3,677 people, while the number of Hispanic or Latino, Black, Asian, multiracial and indigenous people all increased. That decade-long change reflects a similar change occurring across the nation that was the subject of a flurry of reports last week.
Now that the data is in, county staff will be reviewing the numbers to see what they mean for Arlington, said Bryna Helfer, the assistant county manager for communications and public engagement. Census data helps the county plan for future needs and services, such as emergency services, schools and transportation, while the federal government uses the demographic information to apportion funding to localities.
“Arlington’s team of demographers in Community Planning and Housing Development will be taking time over the coming weeks and months to learn more about the 2020 Census Data and what it means for Arlington,” Helfer said. “We want to thank the entire community for their participation in the 2020 Census.”
Arlington is the eighth most-populous jurisdiction within the Commonwealth, but among counties in Northern Virginia, Arlington has the smallest population, behind Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties. It is growing faster than Fairfax County and D.C. but slower than Loudoun and Prince William counties.
Today the @uscensusbureau released population data.
Alexandria’s population is 159,467 and grew 13.9% over the decade
VA up 7.9%
Loudoun up 34.8%
Prince William up 20%
Arlington up 14.9%
Fairfax County up 6.3%
DC up 14.6%
Montgomery County up 9.3%
Prince George's up 12%
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) August 12, 2021
Much of Arlington’s growth appears to be concentrated in Metro corridors — part of the county’s goal of “smart growth” around transit areas.
One census tract within Ballston appears to have the highest density not only in Arlington, but in the D.C. area, attaining a population density similar to parts of New York City. It comes in at 96,758 people per square mile, comparable to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Overall, Arlington has a population of about 9,180 people per square mile.
Behold the four corners at the center of the Washington region's most densely populated census tract: https://t.co/5CBuPUQ1Il pic.twitter.com/Uggzm4c9sq
— Eric Fidler (@EricFidler) August 12, 2021
As the population grew, 13,000 housing units came online in the county. Despite the housing growth, only a handful of census tracts across the county reported fewer than 90% of their housing units as occupied. On average, Arlington has a housing unit vacancy rate of 7.7%.
While that is lower than the state’s vacancy rate of 8.2%, Arlington has a higher vacancy rate than its neighbors — Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties — which have rates between 3 and 3.8%.
Like many other parts of the nation, the snapshot of Arlington in 2020 was more diverse than 10 years ago. It dropped from being 71.7% white in 2010 to being 61% white in 2020.
The most dramatic increase was in the number of people who identify as multiracial: This population group increased by 18,101 people, or by 233%, and now comprises 10.8% of the population. Following behind them, Asians also leaped in representation, due to a 7,512-person increase. Asians now comprise 11.5% of the population, up from 9.6% in 2010.
Although the Black population increased by 3,243 people (18.4%), Black residents still comprise roughly the same percentage of the population, from 8.5% in 2010 to 8.7% in 2020.
The Hispanic or Latino population also made some gains — an increase of 5,980 people, or 0.6 percentage points.
Return of First Students Delayed — “As we have shared, we were aiming for an October 29 start for Level 1, which includes approximately 225 students with disabilities who need in-person support to access distance learning. We are now moving the start date back to Wednesday, November 4, to ensure all operational metrics are met and staff are well equipped and ready to support our students at each school.” [Arlington Public Schools]
County Crushes Census Count — “You did it, Arlington County: With the Census Count completing on October 15th, 99.98% of Arlington was officially counted. Thank you to our Complete Count Committee for your tireless, infectious enthusiasm for ensuring that everyone counts!” [@kcristol/Twitter, YouTube]
Culpepper Garden Celebrates Renovations — “It wasn’t quite the kind of celebration that had been expected when, two and a half years ago, work began on a major renovation at the Culpepper Garden senior-living facility. But it was a celebration nonetheless – albeit ‘virtually’ – that was called for, and on Oct. 13, leaders of two non-profit housing providers and their partners held an online program to mark completion of the $58 million project.” [InsideNova]
Spirits of ’76 Closing Happy Hour — Set to close on Nov. 1, Spirits of ’76 is holding a half-off happy hour from 4-6 p.m. until the closing date. “Everything must go!” the Clarendon bar said on social media. [Instagram]
Punch Bowl Social Restarting Happy Hour — “Punch Bowl Social, the ‘millennial-oriented’ adult playground in Arlington, reopened its Ballston location last week, and it plans to restart happy hour, Wednesday through Friday, beginning Wednesday, October 21. The ‘eatertainment’ chain says it will offer diversions like arcade games, bocce, darts, and more in a socially distant fashion.” [Washingtonian]
Overnight Closures Along I-66 — “Overnight ramp and lane closures are scheduled to occur this week, and possibly next week, on I-66 East in Arlington for asphalt paving and overhead sign replacement as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project. Detours will be posted to direct traffic.” [VDOT]
Arlington County has undergone drastic changes over the last 100 years to become what it is today.
In celebrating the county’s history and the 2020 census, County Manager Mark Schwartz will compare a snapshot of the area from 100 years ago and today’s Arlington during a virtual discussion.
The two-hour program will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. and can be viewed on the county’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, or on Arlington TV (Comcast 1085/Verizon 40).
An interactive storybook and map will be paired with the discussion. The session will also feature a “conversation with the members of the Complete Count Committee appointed in 2019 on their experiences with working on the 2020 census,” according to Schwartz.
“Viewers can expect a summary of how Arlington of today compares with the Arlington of 100 years ago on a number of measures, including population, family size, demographic makeup (race, age, gender, languages spoken, housing types),” Schwartz wrote in an email.
Schwartz added that the discussion will include “a history lesson on what Arlington looked like and some stories from 100 years ago that shed some light on the Arlington of today.”
The broadcast will explore the county’s transformation since its naming as a nod to the Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery — an association that is now under scrutiny. The name was officially changed from Alexandria County in 1920 to avoid being confused with the city of Alexandria.
Arlington County grew from a primarily rural area of farms — the last of which closed in 1955 — as its population steadily increased and new developments were established.
Farms gave way to housing developments, new businesses and modernized infrastructure over the years. The population followed suit as an increase of federal workers spilled into the area during the 1930s, as National Airport opened in 1941, as World War II saw the construction of the Pentagon, and as the Metrorail corridors were introduced in the 1970s.
The county’s population has grown exponentially from the 16,040 residents counted in the 1920 census, which included sections of Del Ray and the City of Alexandria that were part of the county then, according to Arlington’s website.
Arlington County has grown every decade since 1920, except in the 1970s when the area’s population dropped by 12.4%. However, the population rebounded and steadily grew to 207,627 in 2010, according to census data.
The latest estimates peg the county’s population at 228,400, a 10% increase from 2010. A forecast by the county shows the population growing to 301,200 in 2045.
“Today, Arlington is a diverse and inclusive world-class urban community with a population that continues to grow at approximately 1% per year,” the county website says.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
School Year Starts Today — “While the start of this year will certainly look and feel different than previous years, we are all excited to welcome students back for distance learning and to start connecting and building relationships in new ways. Our first days of school will be focused on helping students get to know their teachers and classmates and creating new routines.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Many Still Uncounted by Census — “To have a complete understanding of our community, everyone needs to be counted. Currently, Arlington stands at a 75.2% self-response rate, meaning that a significant portion – almost one-fourth – of the County still needs to be counted.” [Arlington County]
Overturned Vehicle on Route 50 — “[On Saturday] crews freed a driver from an overturned vehicle on Route 50 near Abingdon St. The patient was transported to a trauma center with non-life threatening injuries.” [@ArlingtonVaFD/Twitter]
Why Marymount Is Back in Person — “There are a number of schools that are going entirely online… That’s not what the students wanted, Becerra told the Washington Business Journal. A university-conducted survey found that the majority of students said they felt like they didn’t learn as well remotely as they did in person.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Nonprofits to Merge — “Bridges to Independence, a Northern Virginia provider of housing and vital services for at risk families and individuals, today announced its intent to merge with the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation (BAJCDC), a community-based non-profit with a mission to address the health, education, financial empowerment and social service needs of people living in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood.” [Press Release]
Rosslyn Firm Makes Acquisition — “Innovative Discovery (ID), a trusted partner for law firms, corporations, and government agencies that provides service, guidance, and consultation throughout the information lifecycle, is pleased to announce that it has acquired Integro, a leading provider of information governance and content services solutions.” [Innovative Discovery via Potomac Tech Wire]
Amazon Adding New Jobs in Seattle Area — “Amazon is adding 10k jobs in the Seattle region, aka HQ1. Unclear what this means, if anything, for HQ2 in Arlington. At last check, Amazon was sticking to its original plan of 25k jobs and a second construction phase for another 2m square feet of office.” [@ARLnowDOTcom/Twitter]
Photo courtesy @ArlDuder/Twitter
The Arlington County Board voted Thursday night to sue President Trump.
The Board directed the County Attorney to join other localities in legal action over the president’s order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census tally that determines Congressional representation.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey called the action “clearly illegal and another effort to undermine the Census” prior to the unanimous vote.
More from an Arlington County press release:
Tonight, the Arlington County Board voted 5-0 to authorize the County Attorney to join the County as a party in legal actions filed against the United States President and others challenging the lawfulness of the President’s July 21, 2020 “Memorandum on Excluding Illegal Aliens from the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census.”
The President’s Proposal is Unconstitutional
In Section 2 of the Executive Memo, the President specifically calls ‘to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status’. The United States Constitution says the census counts everyone living in the United States — every immigrant, every child, every neighbor, every student, everyone. This action by the President attempts to circumvent a recent decision of the United States Supreme Court and is unconstitutional.
“The Constitution requires an accurate count of our population every 10 years. The information from the Census is a crucial record that helps determine the Federal resources we receive over the next decade and is used for planning and research”, stated County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “We must have an accurate count of everyone living in Arlington and refuse to allow this unlawful effort to scare people and suppress the Census count of our immigrant community. Whether documented or undocumented, our immigrant residents are valued members of our community. We are determined that they will be accurately counted.”
Other Damaging Actions
The President is also trying to shorten the Census time frame and end the response collection period before Halloween – even when the U.S. Census Bureau has said it needs through December to ensure a complete and accurate count. In short – the administration is trying to undermine the accuracy and integrity of the 2020 Census and create fear of participation among undocumented immigrants.
Arlington County Residents Benefit from Taking the Census
Arlington receives approximately $50 million in funding based on census data to support transportation, housing, emergency services, free and reduced lunch programs, and more. To date, 71% of Arlington residents have responded to the 2020 Census, but we are still working to increase this number before enumerators start reaching out to households who haven’t been counted yet.
Fox News in Arlington — “An apparently news-starved fox has taken matters into its own paws and has been spotted stealing copies of the Post from the porches of unsuspecting Arlington residents.” [Washingtonian]
In-Person Census Visits Starting — “To achieve a complete count, Census Takers will begin conducting home interviews. Starting the week of July 20 — nearly three weeks before the nationwide August 11 launch date — Census Takers will be visiting homes in Arlington, including an estimated 27,000 households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census.” [Arlington County]
Longtime Local Mail Carrier Dies — Jesus and Luz Collazos “immigrated to the United States and settled in Arlington, Va., where he spent 25 years as a postal worker. They raised a family in a home he bought after admiring it on his delivery route. On June 6, about a year into his retirement, he died of covid-19 at 67.” [Washington Post]
Should Route 29 Become John Lewis Highway? — One idea for the renaming of Lee Highway: name it after Rep. John Lewis, who died Friday. The civil rights leader grew up in Troy, Alabama, for which U.S. Route 29 is the main street. The highway also runs through his congressional district in Georgia. [Twitter]
Deer Rescued from Church Basement — “A huge thank you to Animal Services officers Schindler and D’Eramo from Humane Rescue Alliance for jumping in late last night to help our AWLA officers Ballena and Rose rescue a young deer.” [Facebook]
Synetic’s ‘The Decameron’ Project — “The Decameron, a series of 14th century Italian novellas about surviving the Black Death, is enjoying a surprising renaissance during the current coronavirus crisis… Now, Crystal City’s Synetic Theater, a physical theater troupe that specializes in literary adaptations, usually relying on music and movement to tell stories rather than spoken dialogue, has created a Decameron of its own.” [Washington City Paper]
Region Ascends Tech Rankings — Northern Virginia and the D.C. region are now No. 2 on a list of the top tech talent markets in the United States. [CBRE, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
D.C. Now More Expensive Than Arlington — “D.C. has bumped Arlington County, Virginia, from the top of the most-expensive area jurisdictions by county for median home-selling prices — at least for the month of May. Long & Foster reports the median price of a home that sold in the District in May was $656,000, 10% more than May of last year. The median price of a home that sold in Arlington County was $646,000, up 4%.” [WTOP]
Lower Census Response Rate Than 2010 — “In 2010, 74% of Arlington households filled out their Census form and returned it by mail, which was the only option at the time. In 2020, despite being able to fill out the Census online, by phone and by mail, Arlington’s self-response rate is hovering at just over 70%.” [Arlington County]
Missing: BLM Banner — Someone took a Black Lives Matter banner that had been hanging on a pedestrian bridge over Route 50, and its creator wants it back. [Twitter]
JBG Wants to Improve VRE Station Plan — “JBG Smith Properties could soon play a key role in a second major transportation improvement project in Crystal City, performing design work to beef up plans for a new Virginia Railway Express station there. The developer is advancing a plan to manage the construction of a second entrance for the nearby Crystal City Metro station, and this work on the VRE designs would be closely tied to that effort.” [Washington Business Journal]
Another Unique Feat for Wardian — Arlington ultramarathon runner Michael Wardian ran 62.3 miles to every District Taco in the D.C. area, eating tacos along the way. [Instagram]
Petition for Intersection Improvements — “Last Friday, our life turned upside down when a car traveling upward of 40-50 mph mowed down our 10-year old daughter and puppy… We would like to see three simple measures put in place at each of these intersections – (1) stop signs, (2) crosswalk stripes on the asphalt and (3) curb extensions or mini-circles if deemed appropriate/necessary by County traffic experts.” [Change.org]
County: Support Civil Rights By Taking Census — “Census data on both race and origin are used to ensure civil rights protections including voting rights and fair housing. The data are also used to address employment discrimination, provide language services and fund schools, as well as many other programs and services.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Foot Chase in Falls Church — “Police received two separate calls about two women who felt threatened by a man while they were walking near the 400 block of W. Broad Street. Police located the man and pursued him as he fled on foot. Officers attempted to communicate with the man, but he became aggressive. Officers gave warning, then used capsaicin or “pepper” spray… After officers consulted with one of the victims, no arrest was made and no charges were pressed at this time.” [City of Falls Church]