WASHINGTON – Household income in Maryland rose last year, moving the state up to No. 3 in the nation, according to a Census Bureau survey.
Maryland’s average household income increased from $42,253 in 1995 to $43,993 last year, a 4.1 percent increase. The national household income rose 1.2 percent to $35,492.
The state moved from sixth highest in 1994 to fourth in 1995 to third last year. Only Alaska and New Jersey had higher income levels.
The Glendening administration praised the Census Bureau’s findings.
“The number of jobs is at an all-time high in this state, and a lot of these jobs are in the high-tech and private sectors,” said Ray Feldmann, spokesman for Gov. Parris Glendening. “While these jobs are being created throughout the state, it is creating an increase in the overall family income.”
But some economists greeted the survey with skepticism.
Mahlon Straszheim, an advisor to Govs. William Donald Schaefer and Glendening and chairman of the University of Maryland’s economics department, was surprised with the growth and questioned the Census Bureau’s findings.
Straszheim said if the census statistics are accurate, then “the Maryland number is a very good number” and shows the economy has improved.
Alaska had the highest household income at $52,779, and New Jersey was second at $47,468. West Virginia had the lowest with an average of $25,247.
The state’s poverty rate dipped slightly from 10.4 percent of the population below the poverty line in 1995 to 10.2 percent last year, the survey said. The national average was 13.8 percent. In 1996, the poverty line was calculated at $16,036 for a family of four.
New Hampshire had the lowest poverty rate at 6.5 percent, and New Mexico had the highest rate with 24 percent of its population below the poverty line.
The Census Bureau also reported that the number of Marylanders without health insurance was 13.4 percent based on a two-year average from 1995 to 1996 – 0.6 percent lower than the previous two years. Nationally, the rate remained unchanged at 15.6 percent.
The Census Bureau statistics were derived from the Current Population Survey, which samples 50,000 households nationwide.