The 2010 United States census concluded that two cities from the “Buckeye State” have enough residents below the poverty level to make the top 10 list of most impoverished cities in the United States.
Cincinnati and Cleveland were found to have a high number of residents who fell below the $22,314 poverty level for 2010 set by the Federal Office of Management and Budget. The list was compiled gathering all of the cities with populations above 200,000 and finding the percentage of people who fell below this national average, as indicated by the Federal OMB.
According to the American Community Survey, Cleveland made the No. 3 spot for poorest city with 34 percent of its population living in poverty, shadowing only Detroit and San Bernadino, Calif. Cincinnati made No. 7 on this list with a 30.6 percent poverty rate. The percent of poverty for the entire state of Ohio is 15.8 percent.
Economics professor Dennis Sullivan narrowed this economic issue down to the housing decline and the fact that suburbs surrounding the metropolitan area are not accounted for in the census.
If the suburbs were counted as part of the city, it would balance out the income levels between the suburban and city dwellers, which would make for a more economically diverse population, according to Sullivan.
In regards to the housing decline, Cincinnati and Cleveland are both areas that have vacant housing. The cities are trying to get younger, higher-income workers to move into to improve their poverty rates, according to Sullivan. Some of Cincinnati and Cleveland’s counter-cities, like Chicago and Indianapolis, have to kick out lower income inhabitants in order to bring in the higher income people, which boosts the cost of living in those cities as well. However, Sullivan states that Cleveland and Cincinnati have enough housing for both.
“Ohio cities have more integrated income rates, though, a more significant number of lower income inhabitants,” TJ Twigg, a first-year economics student at Miami, said.
Ken Silliman, chief of staff to Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland vouched for Cleveland and said Cleveland was the only city in the top 10 that saw a decline from 2009 to 2010. This is because Cleveland is still recovering from the recession and has not bounced back quite yet due to the fact that Ohio’s population has been relatively stagnant for the past few years. This also explains Cincinnati’s high poverty rate, according to Silliman.
“Both Ohio cities are working toward improving these rates, but at a local level not much significant change can be made,” Silliman said. “Because they do not have the jurisdiction.”
Both Sullivan and Silliman said this issue cannot be simply dealt with on a local level but the poverty rate is a nationwide problem.
“Poverty is a national problem, the consequences are a local problem and needs to be handled with national policies, not local policies,” Sullivan said.