Maryland State Data Center Releases 2017-2021 ACS Data Profiles for Maryland and the Nation

Planning in Progress

A division of the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), the Maryland State Data Center (MSDC) is the state’s primary liaison with the Census Bureau.

MSDC provides Maryland residents, businesses, and local governments with demographic and socioeconomic statistics. It also produces the state’s official population and household projections and develops school enrollment forecasts.

In December, the American Community Survey released its five-year estimates for the period of 2017-2021. As part of this release, tables are included comparing the new data with the previous, non-overlapping period of 2012-2016.

Data profiles for the nation, state of Maryland, Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, and other subcounty geographies are now available and can be accessed on the MSDC website.

More than 1,000 variables are presented in the profiles; five of these variables are described here:

Median Household Income:

According to the 2017-2021 ACS 5-year Estimates, the nation’s median household income is $69,021 compared to $62,460 in the 2012-2016 period, a difference of $6,561. Similarly, Maryland’s median household income increased by $5,549 from $85,882 to $91,431.

Across Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, the highest median incomes were in Howard ($129,549), Calvert ($120,295), and Montgomery ($117,345) counties. Between the two periods, Calvert County had the largest numeric increase at $10,996 or 10 percent while Montgomery County median incomes increased $4,044 or 3.6 percent.

Jurisdictions on the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland tend to show lower median household incomes, for example, median household incomes of $48,661 in Somerset County and $51,090 in Allegany County were reported.

Educational Attainment:

The data reveals that incomes correlate with educational attainment — higher incomes are linked to higher levels of attainment. The presence of federal facilities and federal workers in Maryland, as well as numerous educational and medical institutions, contributes to a high concentration of educated residents; 41.6 percent of Marylanders aged 25 years and older have a bachelor’s or other advanced degree.

In Howard County, 63.6 percent of the population 25 years and older have a bachelor’s or other advanced degree with 30.6 percent of these residents holding a bachelor’s degree and 32.9 percent holding a graduate or professional degree.

In Montgomery County, which is home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Energy (DOE), 59.8 percent of the population 25 years and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher with 27.2 percent holding a bachelor’s degree and 32.5 percent holding graduate or professional degrees.

Median Home Values:

Maryland home values increased by $48,100 (16.6 percent) in the 2017-2021 ACS Estimates from $290,400 in 2012-2016 to $338,500. The median value of owner-occupied units across Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions was highest in Montgomery County ($508,600), followed by Howard County ($483,200), and Anne Arundel County ($380,600).

The lowest median values were in Allegany County ($131,500) and Somerset County ($143,600). Most counties on the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland have relatively less expensive home values than the central parts of the state.

Poverty Levels:

Nationally, poverty levels are declining. In the 2017-2021 period, 12.6 percent of the U.S. population had incomes below the poverty level compared to 15.1 percent reported in 2012-2016. In Maryland, poverty levels dropped to 9.2 percent with incomes below the poverty level in 2017-2021 period, compared to 9.9 percent in 2012-2016. 

However, there are large differences among jurisdictions in the percentage of the population living below the poverty line. The share of the population in poverty was highest in Baltimore City and Somerset County, each at 20 percent, nearly five times the share in Calvert County at 4.3%, the lowest in the state. Jurisdictions having at least 10 percent of the population in poverty were found mostly on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland.

Figure 1 – Bar graph displaying percentage of persons living in poverty in 2021 prepared by the MSDC using data from the 2017-2021 ACS 5-Year Estimates.

Poverty status for the more vulnerable members in society is also reported in the ACS 5-Year Estimates. Nationally, child poverty (i.e., poverty status of persons under 18 years of age related to the householder) stands at 16.7 percent, down from 20.8 percent. In Maryland the statewide child poverty rate in 2017-2021 is 11.6 percent.

Nationally, among persons 65 years and older, 9.6 percent are in poverty, the rate remaining unchanged from the prior period. Statewide, 8 percent of 65-plus Marylanders are in poverty, up from 7.7 percent in 2011-2016. Across the state’s 24 jurisdictions, the share of the 65-plus population in poverty is highest in Baltimore City at 18.6 percent and lowest in Calvert County at 2.7 percent.

Work from Home (WFH) Rates:

In Maryland, 11.9 percent of the population 16 years and older worked from home in 2017-2021 compared to 4.4 percent in the prior period—a 7.9 percentage point increase. The steep jump is at least partially attributable to the coronavirus pandemic beginning in early 2020.

Figure 2 – Bar graph displaying percentage of persons who worked from home (WFH) in 2021 prepared by the MSDC using data from the 2017-2021 ACS 5-Year Estimates.

Among the state’s 24 jurisdictions, Montgomery and Howard counties had the highest shares of WFH at 17.6 percent and 16.0 percent respectively. Between 2017-2021 and 2012-2016, the share of Howard County workers choosing WFH jumped just more than 10 percentage points while in Montgomery County it was close to 12 percent.

On the Eastern Shore, Talbot County had the highest share of WFH at 13.8 percent, a nearly 8 percent increase from the comparison period. Counties with the smaller shares of WFH were Allegany (5.4 percent), and Wicomico (5.9 percent).

For more information about the 2017-2021 ACS 5-Year Estimates and/or comparison years, please visit the MSDC website, or contact Alfred Sundara, Manager, Projections and State Data Center, at

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