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'More People Are Poor Than the Poverty Rate Says'

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022   

More than 1.4 million people in the Buckeye State live in poverty, according to the 2022 State of Poverty in Ohio report.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies' annual report showed the state's poverty rate of 12.7% is slightly higher than the national rate of 11.9%. And while both rates have fallen in the past several years, the gap between them has widened.

Phil Cole, executive director of the Association of Community Action Agencies, explained at a Tuesday news conference other measures are even more concerning, including episodic poverty, or people living in poverty for at least two consecutive months over a two-year period. He said it describes about one in four Ohioans.

"The episodic rate captures the many people who filter in and out of poverty much better than the overall annual poverty rate," Cole asserted. "More people are poor than the poverty rate said. Poor, but not below the federal poverty line."

The Federal Poverty Level for a single household is $13,950 annually; for a family of four, it's about $27,000.

The report examined how employment, child care, student-loan debt, and affordable housing all intersect to affect economic security.

Tina Kassebaum, partner and principal investigator for the Strategic Research Group, noted the pandemic and its related effects fell disproportionately on low-income Ohioans.

"Poverty is almost never the result of a singular issue," Kassebaum observed. "While many of these are issues Ohioans were facing before the pandemic, they have become much more complicated and difficult in the past few years."

However, Cole pointed out there is reason for optimism. He stressed with the arrival of the microchip industry, Ohio could be on the cusp of doing something truly significant for lower-income workers and the state overall.

"This is the 21st century economics, as the DeWine administration has said," Cole remarked. "We need to make sure that those opportunities are spread throughout Ohio and to all income groups. If that happens we can see real improvement for our citizens as well as our economy."

Intel broke ground on a $20 billion semiconductor facility near Columbus last week, and announced a nearly $18 million investment in job-training programs.

Disclosure: The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies contributes to our fund for reporting on Housing/Homelessness, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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