Survey Shows Maryland Is Wealthier, More Diverse Than Most States

By Tina Irgang
Capital News Service
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009



WASHINGTON -- Marylanders tend to be more diverse, better educated and marry later in life than most Americans, according to the results of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey, published Tuesday.


Among Maryland residents, 61 percent identify their race as "white alone" -- only two states, Mississippi and Hawaii, reported a lower percentage. At 29 percent, those Marylanders who consider themselves "black or African American alone" made up the fifth-largest percentage in the nation. Only 12 states claim a larger percentage of foreign-born residents.


Montgomery County is just 11 miles away from Bladensburg in Prince George's County, but in 2000, 86 percent of its residents mailed back their census forms, far more than Bladensburg's 54 percent.





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The American Community Survey is a continuous nationwide effort to obtain accurate data on the lives of Americans between the last Census in 2000 and the upcoming one in 2010. Its results have been published annually since 2006, said Sharon Stern, a Census Bureau spokeswoman.


The 2008 survey found that approximately 11 percent of Maryland residents are without health insurance -- a number that positions Maryland far above Texas at 24 percent, but also far below Massachusetts, which has the lowest percentage of uninsured residents at 4 percent.


Maryland leads the nation in median household income at $70,545. The state has ranked at or near the top of this category for every one of the annual surveys since 2006, said Mark Goldstein, an economist for the Maryland State Data Center.


Median household income means that exactly half the number of households in Maryland earns more than $70,545, while the other half earns less, Goldstein said.


Mahlon Straszheim, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland, said the state owes its top-earner status to "an employment mix that includes a large share of business services and a significant number of federal government workers."


Maryland's economic climate is also defined by the absence of large-scale manufacturers.


"Manufacturing left the state a long time ago, and has been replaced by the health, defense and IT (information technology) industries," he said.


The state's proximity to Washington, which leads to a significant spillover in contracting and federal agency jobs, also means that Maryland is home to a highly educated population, Straszheim said.


Indeed, the 2008 ACS indicates that Marylanders excel in post-secondary education: more than a third have bachelor's degrees, and 15 percent hold advanced degrees, making the state No. 3 in the nation.


Scott Boggess, chief of the survey's coordination staff, said the 2008 survey is the first to take marital history into account.


Marylanders tend to get married later in life than most Americans, the survey showed: Women in the state are, on average, age 27 at the time of their first marriage, while men are 29. The U.S. average is 26 and 28 respectively. Meanwhile, female residents of Idaho and Utah, the two states with the lowest average age at first marriage for women, tend to marry at 23.

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