Claudia Coulton on Cleveland's Poverty Rate in Plain Dealer

Center on Poverty and Community Development   (Cleveland)

September 2014

The Cleveland Plain Dealer quoted Dr Claudia Coulton, Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, for "Decade after being declared nation's poorest big city, 1-in-3 Clevelanders remain in poverty" on September 18, 2014. According to recent data from the Census, Cleveland's poverty rate is 36.9 percent. However, Dr. Coulton has explained that these numbers don't always tell a clear story.

Ten years ago, while Cleveland's poverty rate was lower at 31.1 percent, there were estimated to be 4000 more people living in poverty than today. Columbus was given as an example of a city that had a lower poverty rate than Cleveland yet had 42,000 more residents living in poverty.

After the Census numbers on poverty rates were released a decade ago, Dr. Coulton wrote in a Plain Dealer editorial on August 31, 2004 that cities like Cleveland were "hemmed in by long-established suburban municipalities, are particularly disadvantaged in such statistical comparisons." Often, when Clevelanders do better economically, they and their families move out of the city itself and into the suburbs. "If, for the purposes of calculating the impact of poverty, the boundaries of Cleveland were pushed out 5 miles in all directions, Cleveland's ranking would be lower." The poverty rate for the entirety of Cuyahoga County in the 2003 data was far from first place.

For more about changes in poverty and population in the region, read the Poverty Center's Briefly Stated reports on The Changing Face of Poverty in Northeast Ohio,