ECONOMY: Across Maryland, bare-bones household budgets soar above salaries

Working harder to make ends meet

“It’s not the lazy bunch,” said Zenobia Williams, executive director of the Maryland Community Action Partnership. “It’s hard-working Marylanders who just can’t make ends meet.”

The disconnect between incomes and costs means a lack of stability, meaning even families with two working parents are in danger of not being able to pay their bills.

They could lose their houses, their child care and their jobs.

“Movements like Occupy [Wall Street] focus on increasing income equality and wealth equality, but there’s also the issue of cost inequality,” Pearce said. “Wages have stagnated for people–especially the last few years–but costs in Maryland have continued to rise even during the recession.”

The country’s political debate is fraught with talk of tax cuts and job plans, and counties across the nation are facing the same challenges the report highlights in Maryland.

Out of the 37 states where the self-sufficiency standard has been calculated, Pearce said they haven’t found any place in the U.S. that hasn’t fallen victim to the growing gap between wages and cost.

In that sense, Maryland is typical of the national trend.

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