Howard is again rated Md.'s most affluent; County's 1998 household median income at $68,800


For the fifth consecutive year, Howard County residents boast the highest household median income in the state.

Estimates for last year released Thursday by the Maryland Office of Planning (MOP) show that the county's mark of $68,800 is $3,400 more than the second-most affluent, Montgomery County. Rounding out the top five are Anne Arundel with a household median income of $57,200, Calvert with $55,200 and Carroll and Charles with $54,900.

Baltimore City has a household median income of $31,600. Although that figure is a substantial increase from $30,200 in 1997, Baltimore ranks 19th of 24 jurisdictions. Garrett County is 23rd, at $27,600, and Allegany is last, at $26,100.

"Those that were wealthy are still wealthy," MOP economist Mark Goldstein said of the estimates. "Those that were poor are still poor."

Although the state as a whole enjoyed a growth of $1,800 per household, Goldstein said the recession of the early 1990s is still dragging down the income numbers.

"I think Maryland has been playing catch-up since the recession, and to some degree it has caught up," he said. "It's taken us longer to get back up to speed."

Worcester and Garrett counties had the smallest increases -- $600 and $700 per household, respectively.

On the other side, Howard enjoyed an increase of $2,800 and Carroll $2,500.

The estimate solidifies Howard's reputation as one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the country, said Joseph W. Rutter Jr., director of the county Department of Planning and Zoning.

"The good news is that as bond houses look at this, our ability to pay off debt is there and increasing," he said.

"The bad news is it's an indication of the lack of affordable housing in the county, and we're becoming more and more elite."

Pub Date: 1/24/99

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