The number of Black single mothers in Prince George’s County declined over the past decade, contributing to the theory that more and more African Americans are migrating south for better opportunities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single-mother households decreased by nearly 1,400 over the past decade, much of that due to increasing costs of living in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

That difficulty was magnified in a report by the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (WAWF) that detailed just how difficult the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area has become for single mothers. According to the report, over the past 10 years, the region’s poverty rate has increased 32 percent, with White and Asian women outpacing Black women in education.

“Despite the unprecedented economic growth of the past decade, many families, particularly those with low incomes, find it difficult to find a decent place to live, pay the bills, stay healthy and take care of their children,” the report stated. “The cost of housing, availability of affordable, quality childcare that meets her work schedule, and her personal health and safety all affect whether her family is thriving, surviving, or slipping below the poverty line.”

Those numbers have led many Blacks families to move south for better employment opportunities to some of the more economically healthy cities.

“This full-scale reversal of blacks’ ‘Great Migration’ north during the early part of the 20th century reflects the South’s economic growth and modernization, its improved race relations, and the longstanding cultural and kinship ties it holds for black families,” William Frey of the Brookings Institute said in a report. “This new pattern has augmented a sizeable and growing black middle class in the South’s major metropolitan areas.”

According to Frey, cities like Tampa, Atlanta, Orlando and Houston all have seen a robust African-American population as a result of the migration trend.

Despite the migration though, 37.6 percent of women in Prince George’s County have never been married compared to 28 percent in Montgomery County, 26.8 percent in Fairfax County and 23.4 percent in Loudoun County, Va.

Those women, in many cases, are successful. According to the WAWF, women-led families in Prince George’s County can afford 31 percent of the homes in the county, while the county’s women’s earnings outpace 92 percent of what the county’s male population earns as compared to 75 percent in Montgomery County.

The high number contributes to the fact that the county’s median household income is nearly $25,000 less than Montgomery County – showing that county still needs to make sure it has programs dedicated to helping single mothers.

One such program is the Single Mothers Education Program (SMEP), which provides “necessary educational tools and resources to cultivate decision making techniques that will, as a result, enhance the knowledge and re-establish the character of single mothers.”

The group provides childcare and counseling as well as educational, employment, recreational and residential opportunities for single moms.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO