Monday, December 10, 2007

Poll: Poverty rate in Ohio now up to 16%

from The Cincinnati Enquirer


The number of Ohio residents living in poverty has inched up since 2005, according to a new statewide poll.

Overall, 16 percent of people lived below the federal poverty level in 2007, compared with 14 percent in 2005.

A closer look at the 2007 Ohio Health Issues Poll shows the number of middle-income families shrinking across the state.

The number of adults 30 to 45 living below the poverty level jumped, and the number of upper-income families slid in Southwest Ohio.

Mirroring data from the U.S. Census, the poll also shows more of those lower-income families living in the state's urban areas, while the suburbs remain more affluent.

The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati commissioned the poll, which also looks at the number of Ohioans who were uninsured for all or part of 2006 or 2007.

The poll's findings include:

The number of adults ages 30 to 45 living below the poverty level - defined as less than $20,000 a year for a family of four - almost doubled from 2005. In 2007, 16 percent of adults in that age group lived below the poverty level, while it was 9 percent in 2005.

In that age group, the percentage of adults with incomes of $40,000 or higher for a family of four shrunk to 61 percent in 2007 from 73 percent in 2005.

Shiloh Turner, director, health data improvement for the Health Foundation, said the numbers are worrisome.

"You think of that age group, they're at the peak of their earning potential," she said. "It's another indicator that the economy is going in the wrong direction."

Ohio's cities are growing poorer: The number of people below the poverty level in urban communities grew from 13 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2007, while the number of higher-income families decreased from 71 percent in 2005 to 59 percent in 2007.

In suburban communities, the number of people below the poverty level decreased from 13 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2007, while upper-income families increased from 68 percent to 74 percent.

Rural communities also grew slightly wealthier, with the number of residents living below the poverty level declining from 18 percent to 16 percent, while upper-income families grew from 52 percent to 56 percent.

Southeast Ohio remained the state's poorest region. The number of families living below the poverty level grew from 28 percent to 32 percent, while the number of families living at or double the poverty level declined from 30 percent to 24 percent.

Southwest Ohio had the lowest overall percentage of people living below the poverty level at 12 percent. But the percentage of upper-income families declined from 68 percent earning more than $40,000 for a family of four in 2005 to 61 percent in 2007.

The number of poor people living without insurance dipped, then climbed again from 2005 to 2007. In 2005, 33 percent of people living below the poverty level were uninsured, while there were 26 percent in 2006 and 39 percent in 2007.

Overall, women, African-Americans, adults 18 to 29 and people with less than a high school diploma were most likely to live below the poverty level.

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