Median income in Md. up 2.5% in 2001, census report shows

Sample of about 8,500 used

U.S. bureau hopes to use new form in 2010

January 23, 2003|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

Median household income in Maryland crept upward by 2.5 percent in 2001, while the median value of a single-family home remained unchanged from 2000, according to new Census Bureau estimates.

The data released yesterday also show that the percentage of Maryland's children living in poverty in 2001 dropped sharply from the year before, to slightly more than one in 10.

But the numbers come from a sampling of fewer than 8,500 Maryland households, selected from the state's five largest counties and Baltimore City. And the statistics compare just two years - 2000 and 2001.

Census officials declined to make year-to-year comparisons for the city and counties because the sample sizes were too small. And Maryland officials were reluctant to draw conclusions from such scant numbers.

"We haven't made any effort whatsoever to comment" on the data, said Michel Lettre, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Planning.

The survey results come from the Census Bureau's 2001 Supplementary Survey, a national sampling of social, economic and housing conditions. It is a pilot project, which the Census Bureau hopes to expand and use as a replacement for the unpopular long-form survey in time for the 2010 Census.

If Congress agrees to fund it, the survey - to be called the American Community Survey - would provide detailed information on trends in American society every year, instead of once every 10 years.

State and local leaders, planners and business interests would "know more accurately how things are changing, closer to the time those changes are taking place," said LaVerne Vines Collins, assistant communications director for the Census Bureau.

But the American Community Survey "is not a done deal," Lettre cautioned. "We live in a time of tight budgets. Expanding programs, or having new programs is not something that is easy to make happen."

About 800,000 U.S. households - 8,471 of them in Maryland - took part in the 2001 Supplementary Survey. (Nineteen million completed the long-form questionnaire during the 2000 census.)

Householders answered 42 questions about race, ethnicity, housing costs, educational attainment, language, income and employment and commuting time.

Among the findings, estimated from the results:

Median household income grew from $52,447 in 2000 to $53,756 in 2001.

The percentage of Maryland children under age 18 living in poverty fell from 12.9 percent in 2000 to 10.5 percent in 2001. Nationally, the percentage fell slightly, from 16.8 percent to 16.4 percent.

Nearly 36 percent of Baltimore City children younger than 18 lived in poverty in 2001. That compares with 16.4 percent nationally, and 10.5 percent in Maryland.

The median value of single-family Maryland homes was essentially unchanged, increasing by less than $500, to $151,670. Nationally, gains approached 4 percent.

Among the counties surveyed, Montgomery had the highest median value for a single-family home ($244,781), followed by Howard ($228,088). The state median value was $151,670; the national median was $127,692.

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