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Saturday, June 13, 2015

National, Ohio, and Scioto: Poverty Statistics

U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines

Persons in family/householdPoverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,160 for each additional person.

In 2012, 46.5 million people were living in poverty in the United States—the largest number in the 54 years the Census has measured poverty. This means one out of seven people in the USA are living in poverty.

The poverty rate (the percentage of all people in the United States who were poor) also remained at high levels: 15% for all Americans and 21.8% for children under age 18.

People with income 50% below the poverty line are commonly referred to as living in deep poverty; Census figures show that, in 2012, 6.6% of our population, or 20.4 million people, were living in deep poverty. Children represent more than one-third of the people living in poverty and deep poverty.

In addition, over one-fourth of adults with a disability live in poverty. In 2012, the poverty rate for Americans aged 18 to 64 living with a disability was 28.4% (4.3 million) compared to 12.5% (22 million) of Americans aged 18 to 64 who did not have disability.

("Poverty in the United States: A Snapshot." National Center for Law and Economic Justice. Figures from U.S. Census Bureau. 2013 Data)

Ohio's poverty rate is 16 percent. 1.8 million people in Ohio fall below the poverty line. Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said, “What we find most alarming is that these data indicate that one-third of Ohioans live in households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of three, that’s less than $39,580 a year.”

(Jack Torrey. "State poverty rate dips" The Columbus Dispatch. September 19, 2014)

The Buckeye State's poverty rate increased from 13.1 percent in 2007 to that alarming figure of 16.3 percent in 2012. During that six-year period covering the start of the recession and a supposed economic recovery, the median income for Ohio's 4.6 million households fell by almost $4,800, after adjustment for inflation.

The Dayton Daily News reported that the 9.2-percent drop was the 10th-worst slide among the 50 states and the District of Columbia during the six-year period.

Poverty has devastating effects. The rate of food insecurity in Ohio is 16%. 27.5% of jobs in Ohio are ranked as "low wage" positions. Jobs often pay the $7.95/$7.25 minimum wage or even lower. Demographics show that 24% of Ohio children are living at the poverty rate; 16.7% of women rank there; and 8% of seniors share that rate.
( Ohio)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest report, persons in Scioto County living below poverty level from 2009-2013 was 23.3%. Habitat For Humanity reported Scioto County was the second in Ohio Appalachian counties for its poverty rate based on latest census figures. Scioto ranks 81st of the 88 counties in Ohio in the highest poverty levels. That means a full quarter of Scioto County residents are living in poverty, and indications are that it is getting worse.

Look at this 2013 report in the Daily Times:

Anita Casper, director of The Potter's House Ministry - on Winchester Avenue in Sciotoville, said there is a recent phenomenon the ministry has not seen in the past at the food bank.“We are seeing more of the working class coming in,” she said. “That's a new trend for us. More of the working class not making ends meet.”

Casper said The Potter's House is providing food for people who may have more than one job.

“Some of these people are working a minimum wage and sometimes two minimum wage jobs, and they still can't make ends meet,” she said.

Casper said the ministry serves a lot of people who have become regular clients of the food bank.

“We do roughly about 800 people a month. That's about 250 families,” she said. “There's always a need.”
Maureen Cadogan, director of the Scioto County Homeless Shelter, also sees a large number of, as she called them, “the working poor.”

“We're seeing a growing demand in the needs of the working poor,” she said. “They're not even living hand to mouth. It's not even, ‘pay this and that.' It's ‘pay this or that.'”

Cadogan said she has noticed an increase in the number of people who just are looking for what most people consider the necessities of life.

“We probably get about 25 calls a day asking for help with rent, gas, utilities,” she said. “It takes 100 percent of your income just to maintain occupancy, and you haven't eaten yet.”

Cadogan said the real victims are the children of poverty-stricken families.

“The number of people struggling is mind-boggling,” she said. “You wouldn't believe the number of children in our area without health care.”
Cadogan said 2007 was the first year her agency handled Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for the county.

“You don't even get to hold it in your coffers for the month,” she said. “As fast as it comes in, it goes out. And people are still calling, and we're having to tell them to call back possibly in mid-February. These are people who just want to stay warm, just basic stuff.”

"I have been doing research on Athens and surrounding communities, and typically, when there is a downturn in the economy here - where there is a lot of poverty already- they are going to be among the first and hardest hit,” said Ohio University anthropology and sociology professor Ann Tickamyer. “What we do know is that things like food pantries are getting hit harder and harder all the time.”

(Frank Lewis. "Poverty rate is second highest." Portsmouth Daily Times. July 22, 2013)

In terms of race, who owns businesses in the county? That comes as no surprise -- the white community (93,6%).

Of 2007 total number of firms in Scioto, Black-owned firms and Asian-owned firms received an "S" rating, meaning findings were "Suppressed" and didn't meet publication standards. In Ohio, Black-owned firms stood at 5.8% while Asian-owned firms were reported as 2%.

Hispanic-owned firms and American Indian-owned firms both received an "F" rating, meaning there were fewer than 25 firms. In Ohio, Hispanic-owned firms were reported as 1.1% and American Indian-owned firms came in at 0.3%.

The living wage for Scioto County is shown as the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family, if they are the sole provider and are working full-time (2080 hours per year).

All values are per adult in a family unless otherwise noted. The state minimum wage is the same for all individuals, regardless of how many dependents they may have. The poverty rate is typically quoted as gross annual income. We site "Living Wage Calculator" has converted it to an hourly wage for the sake of comparison.

Here are results from the "Living Wage Calculator":

Hourly Wages1 Adult1 Adult 1 Child1 Adult 2 Children1 Adult 3 Children2 Adults (One Working)2 Adults (One Working) 1 Child2 Adults (One Working) 2 Children2 Adults (One Working) 3 Children2 Adults2 Adults 1 Child2 Adults 2 Children2 Adults 3 Children
Living Wage$9.13 $19.29 $23.53 $29.35 $15.20 $18.02 $20.51 $22.10 $7.60 $10.70 $13.07 $14.98
Poverty Wage$5.00 $7.00 $9.00 $11.00 $7.00 $9.00 $11.00 $13.00 $3.00 $4.00 $5.00 $6.00
Minimum Wage$7.95 $7.95 $7.95 $7.95 $7.95 $

(Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier. "Living Wage Calculator." Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. 2015) 

This site from the Scioto County Commissioners hasn't updated poverty figures here since the year 2000:

People leave the county for work. The commissioners reported that the population in Scioto "is expected to increase to 85,800 by 2015." In reality, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the 2014 population as 77,258 (-2.8% from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014). Citizens must be able to make an adequate "living wage," and, for many that doesn't happen here. Estimates for a single person concerning annual expenses in Scioto include $3,087 for food, $2,060 for medical, $5,028 for housing, $4,569 for transportation, and $2,124 for taxes.

One must wonder what a more prosperous Scioto County would be like. Without looking back and reminiscing about the good old days, a pipedream that holds no promise for a glorious return, the county must find new perspectives to deal with the current plight of poverty and boldly face a firm dedication to new strategies that embrace and help heal the suffering of a quarter of our residents.

And, I believe this should be done now. Amid speculation about new businesses opening here that will employ thousands of people is a current distaste for the poor, especially for those on welfare. How can this bitterness endure when facts show Southern Ohio and Appalachia have tremendous poverty not because people choose to be poor, but because opportunities for them to lift themselves up from their own bootstraps are so very limited?

And, even if the poor with exemplary initiative can reach for the American Dream, the wages for their hard work, in most cases, do not support a good life. How many jobs, likely all part-time employment with no benefits, must a poor person get? Two, three ... more?

And, yes, getting a college education can help elevate the poor. But, just remember that good old Mom and Dad do not pay the educational costs of the poor: poor students are left with staggering debts after completing a four-year degree. Will they have to move back home just to begin their careers?

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates for the 2012–13 academic year, annual current dollar prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board were $15,022 at public institutions, $39,173 at private nonprofit institutions, and $23,158 at private for-profit institutions. The latest figure from Ohio State on total list price for in-state Ohio residents to go to the Main Campus is $23,025 for the 2013/2014 academic year.

I truly believe the poor here have become the forgotten and the despised. The division of wealth allows so much distance between the wealthy and the poor that all perspective is lost. Walls between social classes make ugly barriers that impede employment, education, and equality of precious justice.

“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
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