Source: American Community Survey 2008-2012 data tabulated by NeighborhoodInfo DC.
Source: American Community Survey 2008-2012 data tabulated by NeighborhoodInfo DC.

In D.C.’s poorest wards — 7 and 8, where residents are overwhelmingly black — growth in businesses is lagging behind other parts of the city, the number of high school dropouts is high and incomes are either falling or stagnant.

Meanwhile, citywide, the average family income has jumped 54 percent since 1980.

But what would the city look like if the economics were equal across all wards?

The Urban Institute played this optimistic exercise and found that if the high school graduation rate in Wards 7 and 8 matched the citywide rate of 88 percent, there would be 5,000 more diplomas in these wards.

As the graph above shows, if the rate of homeownership was on par with the citywide rate of 42 percent, there would be 5,400 additional homeowners in Ward 8 and 370 additional homeowners in Ward 7.

To obtain these figures, the Urban Institute determined what it would take for Wards 7 and 8 to equal citywide rates. For instance, if the Wards 7 and 8 employment rate matched the city’s 89 percent, 2,900 more people would have jobs in Ward 7, and nearly 4,000 more in Ward 8.

The Urban Institute argues that these more equitable figures would benefit not just those living in these poorer wards, but also the whole city, which would benefit from a more robust economy and a higher gross domestic product.

These numbers are, of course, theoretical, but they’re worth looking at to see why it’s important for the city to work to eliminate racial disparities.