Cleveland Now Poorest Big City In America!, By Chris Mosby, Posted September 21st 2020

Detroit no longer has the ignominious label of “poorest big city in the U.S.” Cleveland does.

Cleveland is now the poorest big city in America, according to U.S. Census data.

This is the first since 2010 that Detroit has not ranked as the poorest big city in America.

Despite an improving poverty rate in Cleveland, Detroit is now the No. 2 poorest city in the U.S. Last year 30.8 percent of Cleveland’s population lived in poverty — more than 114,000 people. According to the Census, 30.6 percent of Detroit’s population lives in poverty.

The Census Bureau defines poverty as a family of three making no more than $21,330 annually.

“The poverty rate in Cleveland actually improved from last year, when 33.1 percent of Clevelanders lived in poverty, but other large cities – like Detroit – improved even more,” said Community Solutions’ Associate Director Emily Campbell. “Since this data is from before the pandemic, we’re concerned about what this means for our neighbors now.”

In 2018, the national poverty rate was 12.3 percent, down from 13.1 percent in 2018. However, Cleveland’s poverty rate of 30.8 percent is still significantly above average. It is also worth noting this data was collected before COVID-19 hit. It’s difficult to say which regions have suffered the most as a result of the virus and associated economic shutdowns.

Cleveland’s claim on the title of poorest big city comes in part because older adults living in the city were poorer in 2019 than they were in 2018. In most cities around the nation, older adults saw their wealth increase.

“This also shows just how important it is to have strong safety-net programs to support our neighbors in need,” Campbell said.

Community Solutions has previously studied Ohio’s minimum wage, $8.70 per hour, and found a person could work full-time, year-round and would still be living in poverty. In 2019, the organization announced that more than 6,500 Clevelanders were working full-time but were still living below the poverty line.

Due to COVID-19, Ohio’s unemployed population has doubled this year.

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