Study: About a third of households in Anne Arundel struggle to afford basic necessities

and Contact ReporterStaff writers

A new United Way study found that nearly 69,000 households in Anne Arundel County struggled to pay for basic needs in 2016.

The county’s $96,483 median household income is higher than the “ALICE” threshold of a family of four needing about $82,000 to comfortably meet their basic needs. But the number of households who struggle to pay for food and shelter has slightly increased in the county over a six-year period, according to the report.

The "ALICE" threshold measures the cost of living based on common needs like rent, food, transportation, child care, health care and a smartphone for each adult in the family. The “ALICE” report — which stands for a population that is Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — is replicated by the United Way in 18 states, drawing on 2016 data.

The study, released Wednesday, shows that 38 percent of Maryland families cannot afford basic necessities. Half of all jobs pay less than $20 per hour, according to the analysis, with an increase in “gig” and contractual jobs contributing to less financial stability.

Franklyn Baker, president of the United Way of Central Maryland, said the study puts a spotlight on the challenges for families that have incomes above the federal poverty line but not enough money to afford the things they need.

“This really highlights that, though the economy is certainly improving, there is still a segment of our society that continues to struggle to make ends meet,” Baker said, adding that the report will spark dialogue on policy solutions, such as making the earned income tax more generous or investing more in public transportation. The organization does not endorse specific solutions.

In 2016, one out of every three households in Anne Arundel County struggled to meet their basic needs, compared to about one out of four households in 2010, according to the report.

More than half of the residents in Ferndale, Glen Burnie, Fort Meade and Brooklyn Park struggle to meet their basic needs, the report shows.

And people who are single or cohabiting with roommate or relatives — nearly half of all households in the county — are slightly more likely to be struggling financially when compared to families with children, who constitute less than one-third of all households.

The report shows that 35 percent of people who are single or cohabiting cannot meet their basic needs, compared to 31 percent of families with children. Household with residents 65 and older also struggle slightly more, with the report claiming 35 percent of those also not being able to meet basic needs.

This despite the fact the report defines a livable wage for a single adult with no children as $28,260 a year as opposed to the $82,332 total household income the report says is required for a family in Anne Arundel County to support two adults, one infant and one preschooler.

Numbers in the state vary by region. In Baltimore, 47 percent of families make less than $64,392, the amount determined to necessary to afford the bare minimum.

The survival budget for Baltimore County was $76,344, with 36 percent of households living below the threshold. It was $78,048 in Carroll County, with 27 percent below the threshold. The amount was $79,080 in Harford County and $85,800 in Howard County, with 33 percent and 26 percent of families, respectively, not earning enough to afford necessities.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
48°