Cleveland and Akron Lose Population in Latest Census Numbers

Nick Castele / ideastream
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by Nick Castele

Northeast Ohio’s two biggest cities have continued to lose residents over the last decade. That’s one trend evident from Census numbers released last week. 

This release allows us to compare two periods of time: the years leading up to the recession, from 2005 to 2009, and the years coming out of it, from 2010 to 2014. Between those two periods, Cleveland lost 10 percent of its population. The decline in Akron was more modest, at five percent.

Both black and white residents have been leaving Cleveland, but the city held steady among people who identify as Hispanic or Latino. Meanwhile, the suburbs in Cuyahoga and Summit counties are home to more black, Hispanic and Asian residents than before.

But the numbers that really stand out to Richey Piiparinen, the senior research associate at the Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University, have to do with poverty and education.

“Almost half the people without a high school degree in Cleveland are at the poverty level,” he said.

The number: 45.6 percent. That’s up from about 37 percent of people with no high school diploma living in poverty before the recession.

Piiparinen notes that a bigger portion of people in Cleveland do have college degrees now, compared with the period 2005-2009. The share of people age 25 to 34 with bachelor's degrees or higher grew from 19.2 percent to 23.6 percent. And people age 35 to 44 saw similar growth, from 14.3 percent with at least a bachelor's degree to 18.3 percent.  

But he says another part of the community has been left out of that change.

“The country, the city, the region, we’re all moving into this new economy,” Piiparinen said. “And if you’re not prepared—and being prepared is educational attainment…then you’re really going to be dislocated from the workforce.”

And in Cleveland now, more than half of the city’s children live below the poverty line. The child poverty rate has grown in Akron to around 39 percent.

Correction: An earlier version of this story put the portion of people with no high school degree living in poverty in Cleveland at 47 percent. In fact, the number is 45.6 percent, according to the most recent American Community Survey five-year estimates.

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