Survey shows Maryland’s poverty rates — and the racial gap beneath them

A recent study of U.S. Census surveys has shed light on the racial disparity of poverty rates in Maryland — and in the nation as a whole.

Nearly 40 million Americans are living below the poverty line, the study found. That’s around 12.2% of the population.

The overall poverty rate in Maryland is 9.4%, meaning more than 553,000 residents are living below the poverty line.

This is one of the lowest rates in the country, ranking 49th overall, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year population estimates from the 2014 to 2018 American Community Survey, recently analyzed by the data company Stacker.

Baltimore City has the highest poverty rate in Maryland, at 21.8% of its population, while Calvert County has the lowest, at 5.1%.

The areas with the highest rates of poverty are Baltimore City and Somerset and Allegany counties. Baltimore’s poverty level is 131.5% above the state’s poverty line, while Somerset County is at 117% and Allegany County at 75%, according to the report.

The lowest are Calvert County, at 46% below the state poverty level, followed by Carroll County, at 43.8%, and Howard County at 42.8%.

The state data reveal a racial gap consistent with national data. Black Americans are two and a half times more likely to be poor than white Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In Maryland, 13.6% of Black Americans — more than 236,000 people — are living below the poverty line, according to the survey.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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