Census: Ohio poverty level worse than the nation's

Ohio's poverty rate is the highest it has been in 30 years. / slynkycat (Flickr)

Nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, but Ohio's trends are surpassing the nation's 15.1 percent rate, according to a Census Bureau report. The state's poverty rate is the highest it has been in 30 years and median household incomes are at their lowest levels in more than a quarter century--about $46,100.

"People are getting squeezed from every direction," James Newton, chief economic adviser to Commerce National Bank, told The Columbus Dispatch.

Census officials say 15.3 percent of Ohioans are in poverty, which the Associated Press reports is equal to a family of four living on less than $22,300 a year. Newton attributes the negative findings to the recession, loss of manufacturing jobs and other factors.

But some of the most alarming statistics involve the number of young Ohioans living in poverty: about 639,000.

"If this isn TMt a wake-up call to our policymakers, I don TMt know what is," Renuka Mayadev, executive director of the Children TMs Defense Fund-Ohio, told the Dispatch. "We have to stop the backward slide."

Mayadev also fears the worst for federally funded children's programs, which could be the first on the chopping block as a congressional supercommittee attempts to decrease the budget.

"We're really setting up ourselves and our future for failure," Mayadev said. "What TMs going to be there for us in 10, 20 years?"

Can Ohio get out of the economic rut? How can officials cut the federal budget without hurting the poor? Weigh in below and on our Facebook page .

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)