Poverty in Ohio approaching a new 20 year high

About 13.7 percent of Ohioans are living in poverty, approaching a 20-year high, according to a new report.

The poverty rate began climbing two years ago because of stagnant and low wages, then it worsened as the state began hemorrhaging jobs amid the recession, according to researchers at the nonprofit Community Research Partners, which released the report Friday.

An estimated 1.5 million people in the state are living below the federal poverty line. For a family of four, that’s a household income of less than $22,050.

Ohio’s poverty rate hit 14.1 percent 20 years ago.

Many of the departing jobs in recent years have been high-paying positions in the manufacturing industry. About one in four Ohio jobs are now in occupations with an average wage below the federal poverty level, the report said.

In addition, nearly a third of Ohioans, 3.4 million people, had incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level, a level widely accepted as needed to cover housing, food and other necessities.

The state announced Friday that its unemployment rate climbed to 10.9 percent in December, up from 10.6 percent a month earlier. Ohio has gone nine straight months with double-digit unemployment — the longest stretch since one that ended in early 1983.

“It’s a no-brainer. Job creation has to be a priority,” said Phil Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of community Action Agencies, which commissioned the poverty report.

Other recommendations include improving affordable housing, expanding educational opportunities and stabilizing social safety nets.

The report underscored education. It noted that nearly one in four Ohio adults without a high school diploma were living in poverty in 2008 compared with only one in 12 with some college or an associate’s degree.

Overall, more than half of Ohio’s adult population had no post-secondary education as of 2008

Source: Dayton Daily News

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