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New report highlights ongoing problem with poverty in Ohio

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 19:33:19-04

CLEVELAND — In a new report from the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, data shows how poverty continues to be a problem in the buckeye state, highlighting how housing, employment, childcare and student loan debt play a role.

Right now, Ohio’s poverty rate of 12.7% trails behind the national poverty rate of 11.9%.

At Step Forward, a Cuyahoga County based non-profit that helps low-income families become self-sufficient and is aided by OACAA, the data does not come as a surprise. Their 2022 Needs Assessment Report highlighted how 1-in-5 residents of Cuyahoga County live below the poverty threshold.

“COVID-19 made it worse,” President and Executive Director Dr. Jaclyn Chisholm said. “There are a lot of families that were middle income or on the verge of middle income and their life slipped into poverty. ”

The overall poverty rate in Cuyahoga County currently sits at 15.3%, which ranks as one of the highest in the state.

“Many of our families are working two jobs to make one income,” Dr. Chisholm added.

When it comes to childcare, the report showed 76% of childcare centers are experiencing a staffing shortage. As a result, with fewer staff, there are fewer options for parents.

As for student loan debt, the report pointed out that while Ohio ranks 32nd in the nation in median income, it ranks 13th in median student loan debt.

According to the report, the number of jobs available does not appear to be a problem, with more jobs available in Ohio than people to fill them.

However, at the end of the day, Phillip Cole with the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies told News 5 that employment and poverty all come down to setting people up for the right kind of compensation through training and education.

“You need to make a good wage to be able to afford childcare,” Cole explained. “You need to make a good wage in order to be able to afford a good home and in order to get a good wage, and you have to have proper training and education. All these things are tied in together, but it really comes down to how much money you make.”

Cole added that state and local governments need to continue actively focusing on solutions going forward.

“Instead of constantly cutting taxes, take the revenue that we have and put it into things that really help people like public education, higher education, get people trained for jobs, get people able to move on and work on the economic ladder,” he added.

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