Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
top of page

Economically Disadvantaged Overall

Reports, maps, and charts are best viewed on a desktop or tablet.

Economically Disadvantaged Overall

Key Facts Economically Disadvantaged Overall

While Northern Virginia is known for having communities with some of the highest median incomes in the United States, we must recognize that there are segments of the community in need of assistance that live in one of the most prosperous regions in the country.


The Northern Virginia region has some of the highest household incomes in the United States.  However, there are persons in poverty in the region, and their needs must be recognized and addressed.  The poverty rates of all counties and cities in Northern Virginia are shown in the following graphs. The poverty rate is the ratio of the number of persons in poverty divided by the number of persons for whom poverty status was determined.  Not everyone had their poverty status determined so this figure will be less than the total population.

About the Data and Proper Data Interpretation

Poverty data is sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS).  ​It is important to note that any data sourced from the ACS is based on a small sample of the population of a place. Areas with smaller populations, such as the cities of Northern Virginia, may have a larger margin of error in the data due to the survey sample size being small.  This is less of an issue the larger the population.  The margin of error is shown in the popup that is displayed when hovering over a bar in the bar charts.  If there is a large increase or decrease in the estimate from one time period to the next, and the margin of error is large and overlaps other periods, then the large change between time periods is likely due to statistical sampling error and is not considered statistically significant. In addition to the margin of error, the accuracy of the American Community Survey data for an area can be gaged by evaluating the trend.  If the data has a clear trend then the data from one period to the next can be deemed reliable

Poverty Rate - Current
Five-Year Estimates

Northern Virginia's poverty rate is 5.9%, compared to 10.0% for Virginia and 12.5% for the nation according to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.  All jurisdictions in the United States are included in the five-year American Community Survey estimates. Out of all 3,144 jurisdictions in the USA, two of the fifteen lowest poverty rates are located in the Northern Virginia localities of Falls Church (4th) and Loudoun County (11th). Loudoun County and Falls Church are also the first and second ranked for median household income, respectively. However, there are persons in poverty in Loudoun, Falls Church, and the rest of the region, and their needs must be recognized and addressed.

Poverty Rate - Current
One-Year Estimates

Those jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more are included in the one-year American Community Survey estimates, of which there are 837 jurisdictions. The poverty rate, for those jurisdictions in Northern Virginia with a population of 65,000 or more, is shown in this graph.  Out of the 837 jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more in the USA, one of the ten lowest poverty rates is located in the Northern Virginia locality of Loudoun County (7th). Loudoun County is also the number one ranked for median household income.  However, there are persons in poverty in Loudoun and the rest of the region and their needs must be recognized.

Poverty Rate - Historic Compared to Current
Five-Year Estimates

Northern Virginia's poverty rate has experienced a similar pattern to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States over time.  From 1999 to 2017 there was an increase in the percent of persons in poverty and then in the 2018-2022 period it dropped, yet still above the lowest levels seen in 1999.  

Poverty Rate  - Historic Compared to Current
One-Year Estimates

The poverty rate patterns over time, for the regions large jurisdictions (population of 65,000 or more), are shown in the following graph.  The persons in poverty data has large year-to-year fluctuations due to being collected from a survey with a small sample size.  The margins of error are large for the poverty one-years estimates, making any poverty trends undiscernible.  The margins of error are displayed in the pop-ups, which appear when hovering over a bar in the graph.


Because of the issues with the reliability of the one-year poverty estimates, it is strongly recommended that poverty rate 5-year estimates be used for all Northern Virginia jurisdictions and the region overall when it comes to assessing trends, planning, and making policy decision.  The American Community Survey 5-year estimates have a significantly larger sample size.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Expenditures

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  expenditures in Northern Virginia are shown in this graph, including data through December 2023. Since 2011, the peak amount of expenditures was reached in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic downturn. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and its impact on the Northern Virginia region was significant from a health and economic stand point. The temporary boost to SNAP benefits put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, known as emergency allotments, ended nationwide after the February 2023 issuance.

3040 Williams Drive

Suite 200

Fairfax, Virginia 22031


bottom of page