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United Ways Throughout Maryland Release Updated Research, Reveal Increase in Residents Struggling to Afford Basic Necessities

April 6, 2021

Baltimore, MD (September 12, 2018) – In Maryland, 825,433 households – 38 percent – could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, healthcare and a smartphone in 2016. The data was reported in the 2018 Maryland United Way ALICE® Report, released today by United Ways throughout Maryland.

This report provides the most up-to-date, comprehensive look at the population called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in 2016. ALICE households have incomes above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but struggle to afford basic household necessities. In fact, a family of four needs a combined annual income of $69,672 to support a “survival budget.”

“At United Way of Central Maryland, the ALICE findings have reinforced our fight to ensure strong, healthy families in the neighborhoods we serve,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “This updated research underscores the work still to be done in both advocating for and providing services to this vulnerable population.”

The ALICE Report includes Household Survival Budgets for basic necessities including housing, childcare, food, transportation and healthcare by county and by household size. This year’s ALICE budgets include the cost of a smartphone for each adult.

Following is a central Maryland county breakdown of Household Survival Budgets and percentage of households living below the ALICE Threshold: 

Anne Arundel County$82,33233%
Baltimore City$64,39247%
Baltimore County$76,34436%
Carroll County$78,04827%
Harford County$79,08033%
Howard County$85,80026%

Low-wage jobs dominating the employment landscape, half of all jobs paying less than $20 per hour, and an increase in “gig” and contractual jobs all contribute to decreased financial stability for working households.

Since 2010, Maryland’s Survival Budgets have increased steadily, reaching $69,672 for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler) and $26,052 for a single adult in 2016. Significantly higher than the Federal Poverty Level, which does not accurately reflect current, local costs of living, Survival Budgets have increased 27 percent compared to nine percent inflation for the same time period.

“ALICE isn’t going away,” said Baker, “and as this latest report shows, the numbers are only increasing. We must continue to work together to help remove barriers in areas such as housing, transportation and childcare that prevent so many of our citizens from leading a stable, secure life. Stronger, stable working families mean stronger, stable communities. And that’s something that United Way, our donors, volunteers, staff and partners fight for every day.”

This research will be used to stimulate meaningful discussion, attract new partners and ultimately inform strategies for positive change.

Maryland United Ways join more than 540 United Ways in 18 states that are working to better understand ALICE’s struggles. In 2017, United Ways in Maryland released an ALICE Report that looked at 2014 data and showed that 35% of Marylanders were either living in poverty or qualified as ALICE.

Funding for the Maryland ALICE report was made possible by OneMain Financial. “At OneMain Financial, we’re committed to helping people gain financial confidence, overcome financial crises and improve the health of our communities,” said Chief Marketing Officer Kim Wijkstrom. “Many of our customers fit into the ALICE profile. They’re hard-working, and yet still living on the edge where a financial challenge can quickly become a crisis. We’re proud to partner with United Way on this very important initiative that creates the awareness needed to improve the lives of people who struggle financially.”

For more information on the ALICE report, visit

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United Way of Central Maryland fights for the education, financial stability and health of every person in every community across central Maryland. By forging unlikely partnerships. By finding new solutions to old problems. By mobilizing the best resources. And by inspiring individuals to join the fight against our community’s most daunting social crises. Learn more at


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