Household incomes in Maryland slipped slightly in 2009, but the state fared far better than most as the recession dragged on, according to figures released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.
Data from the American Community Survey found that median household income in Maryland decreased from $69,844 in 2008 to $69,272 last year.
In another sign of the effects of the deep recession that economists have declared over, the proportion of Maryland families living below the poverty line last year rose to 9.1 percent in 2009 from 8 percent, a rise of about 63,000 people.
Maryland's income figure was still the highest in the nation, and the poverty rate among the lowest.
Nationally, the median household income in 2009 was $50,221, down 2.9 percent from $51,726 the year before.
Unlike the decennial census, the American Community Survey is conducted every year, and it is derived from a sampling of the population in communities of 65,000 and larger, then extrapolated to the whole nation. The results are subject to a margin of error.
The survey collects data on an array of topics, including income and poverty, health insurance, education levels, employment, veterans status, disabilities, commuting and housing costs. Results are broken down by county, revealing differences within the state.
For example, gains in estimated household income were reported in Baltimore, Carroll and Montgomery counties, while the data showed declines in Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties, and in Baltimore City.
Given the survey's margin of error, the state's overall income decline was insignificant, and the 2009 figure was essentially tied with median household incomes for New Jersey and Alaska.
Incomes increased in just one state. North Dakota saw a 5.1 percent gain, from $45,497 to $47,827. Between 2006 and 2007, just before the recession, income gains were noted in 33 states.
Household median incomes declined between 2008 and last year in 34 states. The steepest drop was in Michigan, which suffered a 6.2 percent decline. In 15 states (including Maryland) and the District of Columbia, the declines were not statistically significant.
Nationally, the portion of the population living in poverty grew from 13.3 percent to 14.3 percent, an increase of 3.5 million people.
The share of Anne Arundel County families with incomes below the poverty line jumped from 2.4 percent in 2008 to 5.2 percent last year. In Baltimore City, the proportion increased from 15.7 percent to 17 percent of city families.
Increases in poverty were also reported for Montgomery County, up from 3.7 percent to 4.8 percent of county families. Decreases were noted for Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.
Matthew Joseph, executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth, noted "a sharp increase in child poverty for Maryland, to the highest level in at least five years."
The survey found the proportion of children living in poverty increased from 10.1 percent to 11.2 percent in 2009. In 2006, the comparable figure was 9.7 percent.
He said only Alaska had a larger gap between median household income and the percentage of their children in poverty.
"What are the two main gubernatorial candidates planning to do to help the increasing number of children in economic distress?" he asked in an email message after the data were released.
The Maryland Department of Planning issued its own take on the survey results, noting the state ranked No. 1 in household income and No. 49 on overall poverty rates.
Childhood poverty ranked 50th, statistically tied with seven other states, the state's release said.
The number of American households receiving Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program help in 2009 jumped by nearly 2 million, or 19.8 percent. Part of the growth was the result of passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which increased benefits to low-income households.
In Maryland, an estimated 147,415 households received nutritional aid, up from 114,870 in 2008. The percentage of all households receiving aid increased from 5.5 percent to 7 percent, according to the Census figures.
Among states with the highest rates of participation were Louisiana (17.4 percent) and Tennessee (15.3 percent).
Between 2008 and 2009, the proportion of American children younger than 19 who have health insurance coverage increased from 90.3 percent to 91.0 percent.
The proportion of children without insurance ranged from 18.4 percent in Nevada to 1.5 percent in Massachusetts, the survey found.
In Maryland, the proportion of insured children under 19 increased slightly from 94.6 percent to 94.9 percent. The gain was estimated at 10,000 children, but was not regarded as statistically significant.
The survey also reported on earnings by American men and women age 16 and older. It found that the median income for women nationally in 2009 was $35,549, about 78 percent of the $45,484 median for men.
Maryland women fared somewhat better, with a median income of $44,937. That was 81.5 percent of the median income for Maryland men, of $55,116.
The smallest income gender gap was reported in the District of Columbia, where the median income for women was $54,698, or 88.2 percent of the median for men, $61,993.
The widest gap was in Wyoming, where women earned just $31,308, or 65.5 percent of the $47,828 median income for men.
Household income in Maryland
Howard County: $101,940; $103,092
Montgomery County; $94,420; $93,976
Anne Arundel County; $80,300; $82,279
Carroll County; $79,227; $78,261
Harford County; $76,187; $77,391
Baltimore County; $64,906; $62,378
Baltimore City; $38,772; $40,114
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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