United Way Study Finds 40% of Ohioans Living on the Edge

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The Ohio United Way has released a new report that finds about 40 percent of people in the state are struggling financially to keep their heads above water. Ohio is now the 15th state to be studied by the agency.  

The so-called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report focuses on those above the poverty level - the working poor.   

"We have 14 percent of our population, according to the federal government, below the poverty line," Ohio United Way President Steve Hollon said.  "And then according to this report, there are 26 percent of Ohio’s population who do find it difficult to make ends meet." 

The United Way looked at five main expenses: housing, child care, food, transportation and health care. Even though these people are working, Hollon said most could not afford an emergency expense of $400.

"They’re living on the edge," he said. "They’re one major car repair or home repair away from being in financial distress."

Hollon said most Ohio jobs pay less than $20 an hour and have seen little wage growth. The county ratings are adjusted for cost of living. 

Cuyahoga County has 18 percent of its households below the federal poverty level and 28 percent struggling, for a total of 46 percent below the ALICE threshold.

In Summit County it's 14 percent in poverty, 26 percent working poor, for a total of 40 percent the ALICE mark. 

Holmes County and many counties in Southeast Ohio reached nearly 50 percent below the ALICE threshold.

Hollon said the United Way is not suggesting particular policies to deal with poverty but is hoping to start a conversation on the subject.

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