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Report: Jobs and Education Key on Ohio's Path to Recovery

May 6, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - As Ohio tries to pull itself out of the recession, new research released today offers ideas to get the state on the path to recovery.

According to the “State of Poverty Report,” released by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, the poverty rate in Ohio jumped almost five percentage points to 15.2 percent from 1999 to 2009.

Report author Roberta Garber says you can't just blame the economic downturn.

"Starting many years prior to the recession, poverty rates were increasing in Ohio. So, it certainly has been made worse by the recession, but it's an issue that was there before the recession and will be with us after the recession."

The report found that poverty affects people of all ages, races and household types. Garber says to alleviate poverty and establish long-term economic prosperity, responsible planning is needed that puts all Ohioans on the path to self-sufficiency.

The report recommends policies and investments toward the goals of better jobs, affordable education, affordable housing, and accessible transportation.

Another new report,"The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Ohio 2011" was also released today, and author Dr. Diana Pearce says while the standard varies depending on factors such as family size and geography, it does show the majority of workers are not earning enough to meet basic needs.

"We're looking at costs increasing while most people's wages are not increasing and of course many people have lost their jobs. Rents are going up, food is going up, fuel is going up, childcare is going up, so there's lots of problems."

The executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, Phil Cole, points out that the state is making good strides toward reducing poverty, but he says this research shows more needs to be done.

"Companies don't want to come to bad communities, they want not just a trained and educated workforce but want to make sure there are safe places for people to live and ways for people to get around, everything works together."

He adds that in order to build better communities in Ohio, it's critical to provide individuals with the supports they need to become self-sufficient and stable.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH