From the Columbus Dispatch writers Catherine Candisky and Alan Johnson take a look at the numbers and their devastating consequences on Ohio. The newspaper also has graphics that show the concentrations of poverty in Ohio and throught the US.
Marion County's 2008 poverty rate of 19.4 percent represents a jump of more than half in only two years for the county of 66,396 people about an hour north of Columbus.
New statewide figures from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey show that 13.4 percent of Ohioans were living in poverty in 2008, up slightly from the previous year and just above the national average of 13.2 percent.
Still, poverty holds a fierce grip on Ohio, particularly in the state's urban centers.
Of America's top 10 poorest cities, three are in Ohio -- Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. No other state had more than one.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, said the poverty level is almost certainly worse than the numbers indicate because the statistics are for 2008, and things have gotten only worse this year.
"Ohioans are getting poorer every day," she said. "We know, from our food pantries, it has gotten worse day after day, week after week."
Ohio is in "a race to the bottom," Hamler-Fugitt said.
According to the census report, 19.4 percent of Marion County residents were living in poverty in 2008, up from 15.7 percent in 2007 and 11.9 percent in 2006. The poverty threshold is about $18,000 a year for a family of three and $22,000 for a family of four.
The survey measures counties with at least 65,000 population, meaning virtually all of Ohio's Appalachian counties are not included.
Poverty in Franklin County actually dropped to 15 percent from 16.3 percent in both 2007 and 2006.