It’s been two years since we released our last edition of the County Fact Sheets, so we figured it was time for an update! We are pleased to release a fact sheet for each of Ohio’s 88 counties, and one for the State of Ohio. Those who reference our fact sheets often will notice one big difference – the fact sheets are now four pages. While we’ve seen value in providing a document that can be printed on one sheet of paper and referred to often, we hope you’ll agree that there was too much interesting data to confine ourselves to just two pages this time.
In 77 percent of counties, older adults will soon (if they don’t already) outnumber children and teens.
Like always, these fact sheets highlight timely data on demographics, poverty, education, social service utilization, health coverage, substance use disorders, health outcomes and much more. We pull this data from a variety of sources and present it so that it’s useful and understandable for advocates, human service professionals, policymakers and interested county residents.
Ohio’s Aging Population
In these County Fact Sheets, we included population projections by age group for each decade through 2050. In all of the counties in Ohio, the proportion of older adults is on the rise. In 77 percent of counties, older adults will soon (if they don’t already) outnumber children and teens. Paired with these charts is a chart on disability status by age group. With an aging population comes the increasing likelihood that people in our communities may be disabled, meaning they are more likely to need caregiving or assistance with the activities of daily living.
Poverty in Perspective
We frequently study and report data on poverty and how it impacts Ohioans. But the poverty threshold itself can be a flawed measure. For example, someone who makes $5 above the poverty threshold isn’t technically in poverty, but their lived experience may not reflect that designation. In this edition of the County Fact Sheets we included a graphic to put poverty in perspective. The harsh reality is that one-third of Ohioans (even more in many counties) live below 200% of poverty, which for most individuals and families means they earn well below a living wage.
Social Service Utilization
While most counties around the state have seen decreases in utilization of key benefits programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Ohio Works First (OWF), this doesn’t necessarily point to a decrease in need. Instead, it points to the impact of policy changes, such as the implementation of work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries, and limits on how long Ohioans can receive cash assistance in their life via OWF. It will be important to consider the impact these policy changes have had as the state considers implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
Substance Use Disorders
Especially in Ohio, the opioid crisis is front of mind for many policymakers; health and social service providers; and people who may have loved ones currently struggling with addiction. That is why we included a section on substance use disorders in these fact sheets. Most counties have seen a large jump in drug overdose-related emergency room visits in the last five years, and we know that the numbers of people visiting ERs only represent the tip of the iceberg. And while opioids are deadly and highly addictive, most other substance use categories, have also seen increases in overdoses. Prevention, treatment, and other innovative policy solutions will be necessary if we are to stop the growth of this crisis.
These issues, and many more, are highlighted in the updated County Fact Sheets. Stay tuned to the blog section of our website in coming months for a more detailed look at the included indicators.