Nearly 40% of Marylanders can’t afford basic needs, study finds

Many Marylanders are struggling to support their families, and a new study looked at just how widespread the problem is across the state.

United Way of Central Maryland compiled the numbers from the latest data available in 2021. It measures what the nonprofit calls ALICE — asset limited, income constrained and employed — people who earn more than the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford the basics where they live.

The study also looked at the cost of living, health care, housing and other necessities.

The study identified households that are above the federal poverty line but below a survival budget, defined as about $91,000 a year to support a family of four in Maryland.

The report showed 10% of Marylanders were below the poverty line in 2021, and 28% were below the ALICE survival budget, compared to 25% in 2014. The study points out that while many households work hard, there is a major disparity between what jobs pay and the cost of living.

In Baltimore City, 53% of households couldn’t afford basic necessities. In Allegany County, 48% of households are below the ALICE threshold.

The data also shows 32% of Montgomery County households cannot afford the basics where they live, while 42% of Prince George’s County households experience similar struggles.

According to the study, 55% of the 20 most common jobs within these households pay below $20 an hour and include mostly cashiers, servers and nursing assistants.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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