Maryland has 78 pockets of persistent poverty | READER COMMENTARY

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View from the 1200 block of E. Baltimore Street looking toward Central Avenue, Perkins Homes and southeast Baltimore, from the Helping Up Mission Women and Children’s Center. Jan. 18, 2022. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau identified counties across the country that experience persistent poverty, which they define as poverty rates exceeding 20% over three decades (1990-2020). In Maryland, Baltimore City was the only whole subdivision to meet that ill-fated threshold.

However, digging further into the census data, which identifies persistent poverty at the census tract level, we find that seven of Maryland’s 23 counties have at least one census tract that lives in persistent poverty, almost all of which are concentrated on the Eastern Shore or Western Maryland. They include Allegany County (one tract out of 24); Baltimore County (two of 269); Dorchester County (one of 17); Prince George’s County (Two of 266); Somerset County (one of 18); Washington County (three of 39); and Wicomico County (Two of 33).


In Baltimore, nearly one out of four census tracts in the city (64 out of 285) lives in persistent poverty. As Gov. Wes Moore has repeatedly asserted, a strong Maryland requires a strong Baltimore. Persistent poverty is a cancer that requires intensive treatment (”Study: Baltimore children moved from high-poverty to low-poverty areas saw their asthma improve,” May 16).

While there are 1,410 Census tracts in Maryland, 78 of them are classified as being in persistent poverty. Many of these same counties also have the lowest educational attainment rates in the state. As Governor Moore and his administration renew their commitment to leaving no Marylander behind, these “pockets of persistent poverty” make the most sense to focus their energies and investments upon.


— Greg Schuckman, Ellicott City

The writer is a commissioner with the Education Commission of the States.

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