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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cincinnati Now Ohio's Poorest City: Census Data Show Only Detroit And Buffalo Have More Poverty

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Census Bureau released reams of data about poverty in the United States, and Ohio was the only state that held two spots in the Top Ten ranking of America's poorest large cities. Cincinnati was No. 3 on the list and Cleveland was No. 4. They were in a a statistical dead heat with 27.8% of all Cincinnati residents living in poverty, versus 27% in Cleveland. That is roughly 185,000 people between the two cities, which once were envied around the globe as economic gems where jobs were plentiful and neighborhoods thrived.

The ranking, including the percentage in poverty, is as follows:

1. Detroit, 32.5

2. Buffalo, 29.9

3. Cincinnati, 27.8

4. Cleveland, 27.0

5. Miami, 26.9

6. St. Louis, 26.8

7. El Paso, 26.4

8. Milwaukee, 26.2

9. Philadelphia, 25.1

10. Newark, 24.2

Five of the 10 are in the Midwest, a region that is losing ground to globalization as manufacturers move offshore to nations such as China. The data is really bad news for Cincinnati, which ascended from No. 8 last year. Cleveland fell out of first place. Each August, the government releases detailed estimates (PDF) about poverty and the full-text of the report is available at this link. The report is called Income, Earnings and Poverty Data from the 2006 American Community Survey. The results often can trigger civic angst and debate over the accuracy of the numbers presented, along with disputes about a community's position in the rankings. For example, Cleveland has been in first place twice in recent years, but there has been no significant changes in the city's economy. Mostly, the Census data can serve as a snapshot to show how a large city is faring -- and in this case the numbers appear grim for both Cleveland and Cincinnati.

In Cincinnati, where a City Council race is under way, the data is sure to become fodder for campaigning up through election day in November. Incumbents and former council members are generally favored to win the nine seats on the ballot. But voters might be disposed to ask Ronald Reagan's famous question about the economy -- are you better off now than four years ago. A story last year about poverty in Cincinnati is still on the Policy Matters Ohio Website. One of the authors was former Cincinnati Enquirer business reporter James McNair, who was fired 12 days ago because he wasn't "fair and balanced," according to the newspaper's termination letter.

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