The number and percent of people living in poverty in Cleveland appears to have dropped in 2020, according to the American Community Survey 5-year estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Although the change is not statistically significant, improvements in the economic circumstances for children continued a recent trend, and estimates of child poverty in Cleveland reached the lowest levels since the Great Recession of the mid-2000s. On the other hand, the number and share of poor older adults in Cleveland continued to climb.
These new estimates include four pre-pandemic years (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) plus 2020, so the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are dampened in the data. These estimates are more reliable, but we aren’t able to discern year-over-year changes and they only provide an indication of trends. And none of the changes reported here are statistically significant and should be interpreted with caution.
Some key take-aways from the latest estimates:
- Even though child poverty seemed to improve, it remined the case that in Cleveland and across the country, the younger you are the more likely you are to live in poverty. Nearly half (46.6%) of Cleveland children under age 18 were poor, compared to 29.1% of working-age adults and 22.1% of older adults.
- Over 11,700 Cleveland residents over the age of 65 lived in poverty. There were nearly 1,600 more poor older adults in Cleveland in 2020 than in 2015, a 15.6% increase. This compares to a 7% drop in the number of children under age 18 in poverty in the city over the same time period.
There were nearly 1,600 more poor older adults in Cleveland in 2020 than in 2015.
- Cleveland’s rank among large U.S. cities was somewhat better in these five-year estimates than in the previous one-year estimates. Comparing all cities with populations of at least 300,000, Cleveland was second worst in overall poverty in 2016-2020, just ahead of Detroit. Cleveland was also second from the bottom for child poverty, working age poverty, and older adult poverty. The gap between Cleveland and Detroit continued to shrink, with poverty in Detroit falling faster than Cleveland.
- Cleveland residents comprised 57.4% of the 208,021 people below poverty in Cuyahoga County. Poverty remains more concentrated in Cleveland. About one out of every ten residents (10.5%) in Cuyahoga County’s suburbs was poor, compared to one out of every three (32%) in Cleveland.
- These new estimates show persistent racial disparities, especially within Cuyahoga County, where Black residents were more than three times as likely to live in poverty as non-Hispanic white residents.
- As in past years, low wages meant that working, even full time, was no guarantee of climbing out of poverty. In Cuyahoga County, over 12,000 adults worked full time for the full year, but earned so little that they were still below poverty.
In Cuyahoga County, over 12,000 adults worked full time for the full year, but earned so little that they were still below poverty.
Community Solutions will continue to dig into the data and we will release more analysis over the coming weeks.