Mixed Signals for Ohio’s Poor

By Pat Cicowicz

            There’s good news and bad news on Ohio’s economic scene. The good news is that Ohio gained 57,700 new jobs between 1992 and 1993. The bad news is that Ohio still ranks 37th of the 50 states in growth performance, and the worst figures in the Ohio labor market in the 1980’s belong to Cuyahoga County, with a loss of 35,380 jobs and a rate of employment of –4.6%.

            If this all seems bad for a man looking for good fulltime employment, it is even worse for women. The poverty rate is 6.5 times greater for a single female parent than for married couples. In fact, 52.4% of all poor families in the U.S. are headed by single women. The Ohio Poverty Indicators of 1993 states that female-headed families are dramatically poorer than married counterparts, despite educational attainments.

            In Cuyahoga County the percentage of families headed by a single female increased from 18% in 1980 to 22.6% in 1990. It is interesting to note that during this time period Ohio’s rate of poverty also increased to 23%. The saddest result of all this is that 40% of all poor Americans are children. Regardless of race 25% of all American preschoolers are poor. In Cuyahoga County 24.2% of children aged 3 to 4 are poor. In fact, 72,268 persons aged 17 and younger in Cuyahoga County are poor.

            While welfare and food stamps are available for single moms, it cannot be considered a panacea at its current rate. In 1970, an Aid for Dependent Children mother with 2 children received $721 per month in 1993 dollars. In 1993, that same family of three received $341 per month—a decrease of 52.7%. A comparison of the number of poor in Ohio to the number receiving food stamps indicates that one-fourth of Ohio’s poor do not take advantage of their eligibility.

            What all this may mean is than not only will schools have to continue doing a good job in preparing students to be more competitive for the few existing jobs, but they will have to train students in how to start their own businesses and survive in this global economy.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine, Issue #8, December 1994-February 1995