Cleveland – “At Least We’re Not Detroit”

on Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As you may have seen, there are mock Cleveland Tourism videos circulating the internet – in case you haven’t – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZzgAjjuqZM

Everyone that I know who has seen it agrees - hilarious. The video does a great job making fun of the economic woes Cleveland, and the rest of our country, are facing. However new reports recently published have shown the seriousness of the situation.

On Tuesday the U.S. Census Bureau released new statistics, stating that thirty one of our fifty great states have seen a rise in poverty from 2008 to 2009. Furthermore, not one state reported a significant decline in their poverty rate or in the number of impoverished citizens.

While poverty rates can be linked to a number of things from low educational rates to average family size, economists agree that for cities like Cleveland (ranked as the second poorest city in the country behind, you guessed it, Detroit) many of their economic concerns are due to the aftershock of the recession and, more specifically, their unemployment crisis. The 2009 American Community Survey, the new census report, is the first to show the impact of the Great Recession statically – with disturbing results. As the recession brought cutbacks in worker’s hours, wages and often, elimination of entire careers, it also introduced a new type of poor. The new poor are reliant upon the diminishing job market. They are people who have been making due for many years and in some occasions, flourishing who now find themselves and their families without an income. However like most of us, they still have a mortgage/rent and bills. They have no means to financially recover when their occupational resources have left them stranded. These newly poor families are often forced to rely on their neighbors, communities and government assistance to get by.

According to the Census Bureau, more than half (51.3%) of children in Cleveland are growing up in poverty because of their parents’ inability to find work. Unfortunately, this forecasts that the worst is not over for Cleveland. Without a healthy, educated and trained pool of worker’s to draw from, companies will outsource. A line from one of the parody videos comes to mind. It jokes that their trains are carrying jobs out of Cleveland and sadly, the line has honest undertones. The only way for Cleveland and other cities in similar predicaments to pull themselves out of these dire straits is to create a substantial amount of new jobs. Of course this is easier said than done. The Great Recession has put in motion a jobless cycle that will take generations working together to turn around. It will take a great deal of federal funding just to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

But, I do have some good news for Cleveland - at least you’re not Detroit.

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