Ohio’s poor can now be found everywhere.
The American Community Survey, prepared by the Ohio Department of Development, reaffirmed historically higher poverty rates in Ohio’s urban centers — Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. But, as a whole, the state is spackled with poverty.
The worst counties hug the Ohio River from Cincinnati to Columbiana County, then turn north along the Pennsylvania state line.
In the past decade, Ohio’s poverty population has increased by 46 percent, according to U.S. census data.
The most recent reports place 1.7 million Ohioans beneath the federal poverty line, scaled from a maximum individual income of $10,890 up to a family of four living on $22,350 or less annually. The Ohio Department of Development report suggested an additional 2 million people are “more or less close to being poor.”
Aside from Cuyahoga County, Northeast Ohio poverty rates for Mahoning (16.7 percent) and Columbiana (15.2 percent) counties are among the highest in the state. Poverty rates for Medina (5.9 percent) and Stark (9.9 percent) counties are among the lowest in the region. Eight Ohio counties, clustered in the southern Appalachian region, have poverty rates higher than 20 percent.
Unemployment has exacerbated poverty in Northeast Ohio.
Since January 2008, Ohio’s unemployment rate has jumped from 5.6 percent to 9 percent in October 2011, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
Youngstown is among the worst. With 9.6 percent of the city’s work force unemployed in September, only three other metropolitan areas in Ohio — Steubenville, Toledo and?Mansfield — posted higher rates, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
As Youngstown’s unemployment rate fuels poverty, the city’s poverty rate has garnered national attention. A Brookings Institute study released in November reported Youngstown as the most impoverished city within the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Nearly 50 percent of Youngstown residents live in poverty.
For more than 30 years, Ohio’s poverty rate was at or below the national average. That changed in 2007, when the poverty rate rose above the national average, and since then, it has remained higher.
In Northeast Ohio, there are 83,000 unemployed residents in Medina, Wayne, Summit, Stark, Portage, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
U.S. census data released in November reported that 620,000 Ohioans under age 18 live in poverty. Child poverty, which has increased 50 percent since 2003, accounts for more than a third of all Ohioans living in poverty.
TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaboration between the Youngstown State University journalism program, Kent State University, the University of Akron and professional media, including WYSU-FM Radio and the Vindicator (Youngstown), the Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio (Akron).