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Survey: More Ohioans Employed, But Still in Poverty

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Nearly 220,000 people in the Greater Cleveland area live in poverty. A new survey confirms many have to choose between buying food or paying for utilities, transportation or housing. (Adobe Stock)
Nearly 220,000 people in the Greater Cleveland area live in poverty. A new survey confirms many have to choose between buying food or paying for utilities, transportation or housing. (Adobe Stock)
August 8, 2019

CLEVELAND – More than half of Cleveland residents living at or below the poverty line say they can't get enough hours at work, or aren't making enough money to buy food and pay for transportation, child care and doctor visits, according to a new survey.

Cleveland remains one of the poorest cities in the country and, while employment is low, 18% of residents live in poverty.

Emily Campbell, a study co-author and associate director of The Center for Community Solutions, says many low-income workers feel their job prospects are dim.

"We heard that people have challenges getting enough hours at work; being in jobs that they feel like won't help their family get ahead and just not earning enough to be able to adequately support their families," she relates.

Campbell notes that more than one in four low-income workers in Cuyahoga County described a job as having no room for advancement, and one in six, work that wouldn’t let him or her get ahead.

Experts say raising Ohio's $8.55-per-hour minimum wage to $15 would help push more workers above the poverty line.

And not all jobs are created equal.

Campbell points out that six of Ohio's 10 most common jobs, including food service and retail, pay so little that employees would have to rely on federal food assistance to feed a family of three.

"Another interesting finding is that about 50% of the people surveyed were currently working at the time of the survey, either part-time or full-time, but they still weren't learning enough money to be above those poverty thresholds," she adds.

The survey also found that many lower-income people turn to high interest, payday loans to make ends meet.

Campbell says limiting the amount of interest charged on short-term loans, and helping people with low incomes and low credit scores establish traditional bank accounts, also would buffer some from falling further into poverty.

Disclosure: The Center for Community Solutions contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Poverty Issues, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - OH