YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Census Bureau dropped some stats Thursday on poverty, and they didn’t look good for Youngstown.

The numbers reflect 2019, meaning they were collected before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youngstown has America’s second-highest rate of people living in poverty at 37.9%. Rose Carter, executive director of the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION), says she has information that the city will be number one very soon.

“We’re not the only city, but being number one or two is inexcusable,” Carter said.

Youngstown’s poverty rate was 7% higher than the same survey in 2018. It’s a struggle Youngstown has dealt with for years, attracting industry, jobs, anything to help the economic picture.

“We are saying to our leaders in the city they’re doing a great job, but they need to go to the top,” Carter said.

Agencies like ACTION, Catholic Charities, Mahoning Youngstown Community Action Partnership (MYCAP), are working together to feed people and help them find jobs, but it’s just too much right now, with the pandemic making the situation worse.

“Some of the progress that we made it’s either standing still or we lost some of that progress, but we continue to work,” said Sheila Triplett, executive director of MYCAP.

Youngstown’s child poverty rate is number two nationally as well, at 56.9%. Behind only Daytona Beach. Trumbull County comes in at 25.6% and Columbiana County at 14.8%.

The highest child poverty rates in the USA include: (Source: Census Bureau)

  1. Daytona Beach
  2. Youngstown
  3. Canton

Ohio’s median household income last year was estimated at just over $58,000. Living in poverty means less than half of that figure.

Ohio’s poverty rate is 13.1%. Mahoning County is the highest locally, eclipsing 18%. Trumbull is at 15.7% and Columbiana County is at 12.4%.

“We are doing all we can. Catholic Charities, MYCAP, all of the different agencies, but (we) cannot do it without funds. We cannot do it,” Carter said.

“So, it’s not just the food. It’s not just the unemployment, but looking at the big picture and coming up with a plan – that we come up with some interventions that are going to be long term,” Triplett said.

The agencies say the combination of factors just seem to fall together at the wrong time, making it more difficult than tackling one at a time.

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