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Over Half of Ohio Faces Rising Poverty Rates Despite Economic Growth


Despite signs of economic buoyancy, a recent report reveals a troubling trend: poverty rates have increased in half of Ohio’s counties, raising concerns about income inequality and the need for targeted policies to address the issue.

The report, issued by the Ohio Development Services Agency, analyzed poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau between 2018 and 2022. It found that 48 of the state’s 88 counties experienced a rise in poverty rates, with Appalachian counties facing the starkest increases. Notably, the poverty rate in Adams County climbed to 30.6%, the highest in the state.

“While Ohio’s overall economy has shown signs of improvement, these numbers paint a different picture for many communities,” said Emily Muttillo, director of research at the Ohio-based Center for Community Solutions. “We’re seeing rising poverty rates even in counties with thriving industries, indicating a growing gap between those who are benefiting from economic expansion and those who are being left behind.”

The report attributes the rise in poverty to several factors, including rising housing costs, stagnant wages, and a decline in unionization. The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated existing disparities, disproportionately impacting low-wage workers and communities of color.

Advocacy groups are urging policymakers to take action, calling for increased investments in affordable housing, job training programs, and early childhood education. They argue that such measures are crucial to break the cycle of poverty and ensure equitable economic growth throughout the state.

“Ohio cannot afford to ignore the plight of its struggling communities,” said John Jones, executive director of the Ohio Poverty Rights Campaign. “We need comprehensive policies that address the root causes of poverty, not just Band-Aid solutions. This requires prioritizing the needs of working families and investing in programs that create pathways to economic opportunity.”

While the overall state poverty rate remained steady at 14.1%, the increase in half of the counties underscores the uneven distribution of economic prosperity in Ohio. The report highlights the need for targeted interventions and a renewed focus on policies that support low-income individuals and families.

Key points:

  • Poverty rates increased in half of Ohio’s counties despite economic growth.
  • Appalachian counties and Adams County saw the highest rates.
  • Rising housing costs, stagnant wages, and declining unionization cited as factors.
  • Advocacy groups call for investments in affordable housing, job training, and early childhood education.
  • Report underscores need for targeted policies and focus on income inequality.