Update: Cleveland Still Very Poor and Increasingly Violent

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Colt 1911
  • Colt 1911
Lest we get too carried away with the year-end adulations — The RNC! The Cavs! The Indians! All of which are worth celebrating — let us not forget that by traditional metrics used to measure a city's health, unlike  "narrative," Cleveland is still struggling mightily.

With a murder on the city's west side Tuesday morning, the year's total homicides reached 135, the highest number in more than a decade. It continues a disturbing upward trend. There were 102 murders in Cleveland in 2014 and 120 in 2015.

On the poverty front, the narrative is likewise unchanged. New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 36.2 percent of the city lives in poverty (set at $11,880 per year for an individual / $24,300 per year for a family of four). More than half of the city's children (53.2 percent) are below that line. Only East Cleveland, Youngstown, Warren and Fostoria, a small town between Findlay and Tiffin, have a higher child-poverty rate than Cleveland.

This newest estimate, as reported by Cleveland.com's Rich Exner, should temper some of the enthusiasm expressed back in September, when earlier estimates suggested that Cleveland's poverty rate had fallen to 34.7 percent from 39.2 percent in 2014, the highest single-year drop in the state.

Though a three percent decline is still noteworthy, it must be assessed in the context of the broader trend. Twenty-fourteen represented Cleveland's highest poverty rate in the past decade. Twenty-fifteen's 36.2 percent is on par with rates in 2012 (36.1%) and 2013 (36.9%).

Estimates from 2016 related to poverty, and even infant mortality (which also, dishearteningly, rose in 2015), won't be available for several months.


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