Ohio incomes show little improvement

By Bob Strickley

September 21, 2013

Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

On Thursday the U.S. Census Bureau released 2012 figures reflecting a murky economic picture for Ohio families with statewide poverty numbers remaining steady at 16.3 percent. Income growth of the typical Ohio household also remained stagnant, according to the data.

Though there were bright spots in the deluge of the latest survey data released, the unreliability of the data for non-metropolitan areas is cited with the report. With the margin of error in mind, one county in Ohio had seen a significant rise in median household income within the American Community Survey - Scioto County.

Median household income, as defined in the survey from which this latest data is sourced, includes Social Security benefits collected, wages, unemployment compensation, public assistance and workers’ compensation.

Comparing the 2011 and 2012 survey estimates, median household income in Scioto County shot up from $29,657 to $36,874. That is a difference of $7,217 dollars. Of course, the margin of error for that $7,217 is +/- $3,378, or a little less than half the projected increase.

Though optimistic, Executive Director the Community Action Organization of Scioto County Bill Thacker warns that economic statistics at his office do not hash out such a wide jump in household incomes.

“I would hope the numbers are true that would certainly be good news for our area as a whole and our economy, but it really seems to be too large an increase for what is currently known about our present economy, about the number of jobs that have been created recently here,” Thacker said. “And also subtracting from that some jobs that have been lost in the past 12 months.”

An increase that significant would mean several high income jobs arrived in the county between 2011 and 2012 and Thacker said that has not happened.

“That type of a jump in household income from the 28,000 households we have are a really significant increase in the number of really well-playing jobs and that simply hasn’t happened here,” he said. “I’m inclined to be a bit suspicious of the number, but again, any increase in the spending power the residents of Scioto County have is a good thing for our economy and I hope that if it’s not that total number, that there has been some increase.”

Thacker said the more likely employment scenario within the county is one that has followed state and national trends since recovery from the recession began.

“Our improvement I think has basically mirrored that which has taken place throughout the state and the country. It’s been improving in very small increments,” he said. “We are picking up 30 or 40 jobs here, 50 some place else. It’s been an increase in employment which is a boon for our economy, but it has been very slow although steady.”

The types of jobs returning are mostly service positions, according to Thacker.

“Most of the increases we see are in service jobs, particularly the health care industry. It has always been a strong hirer,” he said. “We are seeing progress on industrial manufacturing with new businesses such as Infra-Metals, which is being constructed now and is quite a few weeks ahead of schedule. Hopefully they will be in production before the end of the year. It is my understanding they have hired between 25 and 30 already who are training at one of their plants in Connecticut.”

The survey also included poverty numbers in Scioto County from 2011 to 2012. The data reflected a drop in county residents earning below the poverty level between the two years. In 2011 the number stood at 20,317 and in 2012 it dropped to 17,938. That shows a drop of 2,379 residents, but the margin of error for the 2012 numbers is +/-3,488 meaning the gray area on either side of the recorded figure is too wide to be deemed reasonably reliable.

The statewide the poverty level that remained steady from 2011 to 2013 at 16.3 percent, accounting for 1.8 million Ohioans. Only six other states have a poverty figure higher than Ohio, according to the survey.

Around the state, 36 percent of the people living in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County had income below the poverty level. Franklin County in central Ohio was at 22 percent while Hamilton County and Cincinnati were just under 20 percent.

To view data from the latest American Community Survey, visit http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/searchresults.xhtml?refresh=t.

The Census Bureau warns that unlike the population counts in the recent census, the survey only provides estimates, not exact information and that results for nonmetropolitan counties are not as precise as those for highly populated areas or the entire state.

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Bob on Twitter @rjstrickleyjr. Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.