Based on the national poverty threshold for 2011, defined as an annual income of $23,021 for a family of four, Maryland’s poverty rate of 10.1 percent was significantly lower than the national poverty rate of 15 percent. However, by that measure nearly 550,000 citizens are living in poverty, a number greater than the population of Maryland’s 11 smallest counties combined. One of the hardest-hit groups in the state is children. In all, 13.5 percent of children in Maryland live in poverty, which indicates that most of the Marylanders who live in poverty are families.

Upon closer examination, however, the problem is far worse than is indicated by the number of people below the poverty line. When geographic price differences are taken into account, housing, work, and ...

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