by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, January 2018) How does the poverty rate in Cleveland compare to the poverty rate in Cuyahoga County, the State of Ohio and the rest of the nation?
A City of Cleveland profile, published by The Center for Community Solutions, indicates the percentage of the City of Cleveland’s population living below the poverty rate is 36.2%. Cleveland Child poverty rate was listed at 53.5%. Another stat for Cleveland in the profile indicates 18.2 percent of the population live in abject poverty (household income less than 50% of the poverty rate). The number of Clevelanders living on income at 200% of the official poverty line or less (the poor or near poor) is estimated at 61.3% of Cleveland’s population.
The Center for Community Solutions also prepared profiles for Cuyahoga County. The poverty rate in Cuyahoga County is 18.7%, with 231,823 County residents estimated living in poverty. The child poverty rate in Cuyahoga County was listed as 27.9%.
The percentage of people in Cuyahoga County living in abject poverty (household income less than 50% of the poverty rate) was 9% of the county’s population. The profile estimated that 460,406 individuals with household income less than 200% of the federal poverty rate or 37.2 percent of Cuyahoga County’s population.
An October 2017 report by the Coalition on Human Needs and the Ohio Association of Food Banks titled Poverty and Progress: The State of Being Poor in Ohio and New Threats Ahead cites recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, indicating that the poverty rate in Ohio was 14.6 percent in 2016. The child poverty rate in the State of Ohio is listed at 20.5% of the State’s children living in households with income below the federal poverty line. The report says that roughly 1.6 million Ohioans are living in poverty. The poverty line for a family of four is an annual income of $24,563.
The report also notes the number of Ohioans living in abject poverty, those households with income less than half the federal poverty line (or $1,023 or less a month for a family of four). The report estimates that 756,400 Ohioans or 6.7 percent of the state’s population live in abject poverty.
According to the report, the number of Ohioans with income less than 200% of the poverty rate – the poor and near poor— were estimated at 3.6 million in 2016 or 31.7 percent of Ohio’s population.
The report by the Coalition on Human Needs and the Ohio Association of Food Banks notes that without successful federal anti-poverty programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income for persons with Disabilities, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, the poverty rate would be much higher. The report expressed concern that these programs are threatened as the expected mounting debt from the tax cut passed by Congress will likely lead to pressure on Congress to cut funding to these anti- poverty programs.
As the reports above indicates, the poverty rate in Cleveland is substantially higher than that in Cuyahoga County and the State of Ohio.
How do we compare nationally?
A WalletHub study looking at 2017’s Neediest Cities compared 180 United States cities and found that Cleveland tied with Detroit Michigan and Rochester New York in having the highest child poverty rate among the big cities in the nation. Cleveland’s overall poverty rate was 2nd in the nation, with Detroit, Michigan coming in first. Overall, using 25 key metrics, the Wallet Hub ranked Cleveland as the 2nd most-neediest big city in the country. Some of the other indicators in the WalletHub study rank Cleveland 4th in Unemployment rate, 91st in Homelessness Rate, 17th in Food Insecurity, 15th in Percentage of Homes with inadequate plumbing, and 8th in Percentage of Homes with inadequate kitchens. For the full WalletHub study visit wallethub.com/edu/cities-with-the-highest-lowest-population-in-need/8795.