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Data Reveals Promising Drop in Ohio Child Poverty

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022   

New data reveals a promising trend in the well-being of Ohio's kids.

In 2020, 16.8% of Ohio children lived in poverty, nearly 423,000 children, the lowest percentage reported since 2000.

Emily Campbell, associate director of the Center for Community Solutions, noted the data is a one-year estimate from the Census Bureau's 2020 American Community Survey, which carries some uncertainty because of disruptions caused by the pandemic.

"These are the best estimates that we have and the best data collection that we could hope for in those circumstances," Campbell explained. "So we're cautious with how we're interpreting it and waiting to see if it's an anomaly, but we see a lot of reasons for hope in this new data."

The 2020 data found a 12.4% poverty rate for Ohio adults ages 18 to 24, which is unchanged from 2019, and a slightly higher poverty rate for older adults. Campbell noted the changes are not as statistically significant as the drop in child poverty.

Considering the fact unemployment reached record levels in 2020, Campbell added the drop in child poverty is likely the result of government interventions.

"Economic stimulus payments, additional unemployment compensation for parents," Campbell outlined. "We think that these are the things that pulled a lot of Ohio's children out of poverty, when the situation could have been much worse."

Campbell pointed out the actual impact of policy interventions could be much bigger, because the poverty data only takes income and monetary benefits into account.

"It doesn't show the impact of additional food assistance including SNAP and pandemic EBT that was helping children address hunger issues that may have come up," Campbell emphasized. "Or additional Medicaid coverage to help people maintain their health coverage during this pandemic."

Two stimulus payments in 2020 lifted an estimated 3.2 million children out of poverty. Campbell maintained the 2020 child poverty data reveals the real-world impact of policies putting additional resources into the hands of families with children.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.


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