News » High costs, low confidence: Maryland among most expensive U.S. states; Pessimism reigns over U.S economy, personal finances

High costs, low confidence: Maryland among most expensive U.S. states; Pessimism reigns over U.S economy, personal finances

The Star Democrat

This article originally appeared on The Star Democrat

By Mike Sunnucks

Maryland is one of the most expensive U.S. states to live with household bills more than 25.5% higher than the national average. The state also has the lowest unemployment rate in the country as the national economy continues to face pessimism from consumers and voters worried over higher costs for housing, cars, food and health insurance.

According to billing company Doxo Inc., Marylanders pay $2,595 on average on bills ranging from housing and car payments to auto and medical insurance, internet, cable and cellphone bills.

That’s fifth highest in the U.S. for monthly bills — behind only Hawaii ($3,070), California ($2,838), New Jersey ($2,727) and Massachusetts ($2,656), according Bellevue, Washington-based Doxo.

Those types of costs make it tough on many households statewide and for employers in lower-paying jobs.

Marylanders end up paying $6,271 more annually on household bills than the national average with wealthy Montgomery County suburbs such as Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase coming in as among the most expensive places to live in the country.

Montgomery County bills total $3,097 per month — 51.3% higher than national average ($2,046). In Anne Arundel County, bill are 28.7% higher than the U.S. average.

Those numbers don’t include groceries, prescriptions, gasoline and other expenditures.

On the Eastern Shore, Talbot County residents pay 10% more in household monthly bills than the national average forking over $2,251 each month on housing, car payments, insurance and phone, cable and internet bills, according to Doxo.

That translates into $2,460 more annually than the average American household’s bills.

It costs Easton residents $1,788 more than annually than the national average on household bills. Local residents allocate 38% of their income on monthly bills. Statewide, which includes wealthy D.C. suburbs, that number is 34%.

On average, Easton residents fork over $2,194 each month on household bills. That’s 7.2% higher than the U.S. average of $2,046.

Monthly bills are more in line with the national average in Ocean City where they total $2.053 per month. Salisbury residents have 3.7% higher bills than the U.S. average will households in Dorchester County and Cambridge pay 8.8% and 7% lower.

Monthly bills come in at $1,902 in Cambridge and $1,867 in Dorchester County.

The Doxo report found that American households spend $3.2 trillion annually on rent, mortgage, car payments, phone and cable bills and insurance. Affordability — ranging from housing and car payments to health insurance


The report comes as the state and region try to address shortages of affordable housing and U.S. consumers (and voters) continue to have pessimistic views of the economy after 40-year highs with inflation after all the fiscal and monetary infusions during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new national poll by The Economist and YouGov shows just 22% of Americans think the economy is getting better while 49% say it is getting worse 23% say conditions are holding steady. Women, rural voters as well as White and Hispanic voters are most pessimistic about the economy.

The 1,531-person poll conducted Dec. 31 to Jan. 2 shows 53% of women and Whites and 61% or rural voters feel the U.S. economy is getting worse.

Only 16% of all Americans in the poll (including 13% of women, 15% of Whites and 9% of rural residents) said their personal finances improved last year. Inflation continues to confront households with the issue leading voters’ concerns headed into this year’s elections. While monthly inflation numbers in the Consumer Price Index have eased from a year ago, consumer prices are up 17.4% since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021 and 19% from pre-pandemic levels in early 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Meanwhile, investors and upper incomes enjoyed gains for stocks on Wall Street in 2023 with the S&P 500 up 24%, Dow Jones Industrial Average up 14% and tech-heavy Nasdaq up 43%.

Democrats — who are more prevalent in very blue Maryland — are much more optimistic about the economy than the nation at large.

According to the poll, 46% of Democrats say the economy is getting better. That’s more than double all respondents in the poll (22%).

Twenty-seven percent of Democrats say their personal finances improved last year compared to 16% of all respondents.

The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in December besting economists and Wall Street estimates of 170,000 news jobs. More than 51% of the new jobs created last month were for government, health care and “social assistance” positions

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate is at 3.7%. Maryland’s jobless rate — 1.8% — is the lowest in the country, according to BLS. Nevada (5.4%) and the District of Columbia (5%) have the highest.

The U.S added 2.7 million jobs in 2023 after adding 4.8 million jobs in 2022.

According to the Doxo numbers, West Virginia ($1,530) and Mississippi ($1,616) are the cheapest states for monthly bills while San Jose ($3,504), Boston ($3,369) and Manhattan ($3,244) are the most expensive U.S. cities for monthly bills.