A Recent Study Shows Families in Maryland Above Federal Property Line Cannot afford Basic Essentials


A study led by United Way that over half a million Maryland households are living above the federal poverty level. It also showed that that these families are living below the basic survival threshold.

The Study of Financial Hardship primary focus was families, who rely on jobs that pay low wages, with an annual income just over the federal poverty level, $23,550. However, the nonprofit calculated a two-child family “survival budget” of $61,224.Among the low-income workers are security guards, service workers and janitors, just everyday people that are working hourly jobs. The United Way place these workers in the “ALICE” (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) category.

The idea was to provide a better look at Maryland’s economic disparity, one that would trump the inadequate federal poverty line. The report utilized the 2014 state income data, with Stephanie Hoopes leading the research team.

Around 209,000 or 10 percent of Maryland households earn less than the federal poverty level. The United Way expanded the figure with 534,800 “ALICE” households, which actually shows over one-third of the state’s families cannot afford the standard cost of living. These families do not earn enough to afford emergency costs or the basic necessities.

United Ways’ survival budget includes childcare, housing, food, healthcare, transportation and miscellaneous taxes and costs. All of these expenses are a necessity for a family of four, with one preschooler or infant.

According to the United Way report, the single adult basic survival budget is lower than $23,568 per year. However, this still exceeds the federal individual poverty level of $11,700.

The report said nearly half of the Baltimore households couldn’t afford the established survival budget of $61,224, with 22 percent living below the federal poverty line and another 23 percent in the “ALICE” category.

Three-quarters of families living in the poorest neighborhoods, Middle East, Oldtown, Harlem Park, Sandtown-Winchester, Clifton, Greenmount East, Berea, Southern Park Heights and Cherry Hill, were below the ALICE threshold.

The people were forced to choose to between healthcare and childcare, buying medicine or groceries or owning a vehicle or affording housing. The report said over half of the jobs in Maryland pay less than $20 an hour and two-thirds of those jobs pay less than $15 an hour.

Thirty-five percent of families in Maryland are living below the ALICE threshold, right above Washington State (32 percent) and Iowa (31 percent). The states that had the most were New York (44 percent), Florida (43 percent) and Wisconsin (42 percent).

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