Guest blogger: County profiles underline hard times
Posted on 04/17/15 in Work & Wages
The Center for Community Solutions has released a new series of county profiles that show an increase in poverty, food pantry use and Medicaid enrollment despite a strengthening economy.
Ohio has been steadily increasing the number of jobs since 2010, but many counties still have fewer jobs than before the recession. Large areas are still experiencing high levels of joblessness, particularly in urban areas. Seven counties – Clinton, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery, Summit, and Trumbull – still have employment levels more than 10,000 below their 2007 levels. Together, these counties have lost 136,000 jobs. Cuyahoga County alone lost 41,000 jobs. Clinton County is especially alarming – at 16,000 jobs, its employment level is 42 percent below where it was in 2007.
Statewide median household income, adjusted for inflation, has fallen almost 12 percent over the past decade to $48,000 in 2013. The top employment sectors give some insight into the lack of growth of median household income. Of the top five employment sectors by number of employees, two – retail trade and accommodation and food services – have average annual pay of less than $30,000 per year. The other largest sectors – health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and educational services – all have average annual pay of greater than $40,000.
There are 1.8 million Ohioans, or 15.8 percent, living below the federal poverty level in 2013. The poverty rate for children is startlingly high. More than a quarter of children under five years of age were living in poverty.
SNAP (formerly food stamps) enrollment has increased 59 percent since 2006. Fifteen percent of Ohioans were receiving SNAP food assistance in December 2014. With so much demonstrable need, Ohio’s failure to request a statewide waiver for work requirements for single adults has limited the number of Ohioans who can benefit from this program. Need has been passed on to the food bank system. There were almost 10 million visits to food pantries in 2014.
The Medicaid extension has opened up access to health care to many Ohioans. Already in December 2014, the extension population made up more than 470,000 of the 2.7 million Ohioans fully enrolled in Medicaid. All told, almost a quarter of the state population is enrolled in Medicaid.
While Ohio is showing signs of recovery, poverty and joblessness still pose a significant problem across the state.
You can explore all 88 county profiles here.
Bird is a policy and program assistant for The Center for Community Solutions.