Cleveland No.1 in big-city poverty
Nearly half of children among the poor
Cleveland experienced the highest poverty rate among America's big cities last year, with nearly a third of its people in poverty, according to new figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
And nearly one-half of Cleveland's children were among the poor, again the highest rate among American cities with populations of 250,000 or more.
The poverty line is defined by the federal government as an income of less than $18,660 in 2003 for a family of four. It does not take much to push a family over that edge, Weiner said.
A lost job, a new child, or an illness can do it.
Across America in 2003, families struggled to maintain their standards of living. Incomes were stagnant, poverty increased, and more than a million more Americans felt the sting of living without health insurance, the Census Bureau reported.
The portrait of a nation treading water comes from two separate coast-to-coast surveys of key quality-of-life indicators.
The Census Bureau released a mountain of data Thursday from those surveys done in 2003. The Current Population Survey set the nation's official poverty rate and detailed America's fortunes with income and health insurance.
Commute times in the eight counties dipped slightly to under 23 minutes on average, while the percentage of adults with a college education rose to its highest level ever, 25.8 percent.
Among other highlights:
The nation's official poverty rate climbed to 12.5 percent last year, up from 12.1 percent in 2002, as an additional 1.3 million Americans fell into poverty.
The poverty rate for children rose slightly to 17.6 percent.
Forty-five million Americans were without health insurance coverage last year, an increase of 1.4 million over the year before.
With an estimated 31.3 percent of its people in poverty, Cleveland topped the list of impoverished big cities for the first time in the four years census officials have conducted the American Community Survey.
It was not a steep fall. In 2000, the city's poverty rate of 24.3 percent ranked sixth nationally; by 2002, Cleveland ranked third, with 30.6 percent of its people in poverty.
Cleveland's poverty rates actually dropped sharply during the booming national economy of the late 1990s, only to surge again since 2000, said Coulton, co-director of Case's Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change.