Ohio was recently given a dubious distinction when five of its’ cities — Canton, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown — were placed into the top 50 “least liveable cities” in the United States.
24/7 Wall St. looked at what it considered easily quantifiable categories. Those included crime, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure and leisure. They reviewed statistics in each of those categories for over 600 cities in the U.S. For a city to make that list, they had to have an estimated population of at least 50,000 people.
Toledo was the lowest ranked city in the state, at No. 35. The report cited the city’s crime statistics as one of the reasons it made the list.
In 2016, for every 100,000 residents, there were 1,192 violent crimes committed. That number was three times the average for the state of Ohio during that same time period.
Toledo has also seen a shift in population, with people moving out but not an influx of people moving in to balance out the decline. As in other cities, this is due in some part to the perceived lack of employment opportunities in the region.
That’s a theme that’s echoed in the next Ohio city on the list, Canton. Thirty percent of the residents of the city where the NFL was born are living below the federal poverty line. This fact puts Canton in rare company — only 15 other cities in the survey have a poverty rate that is worse.
In 2016, the state of Ohio had an unemployment rate that hovered just under five percent. During that same time period, Canton had an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent.
Dayton’s 29th place ranking was not surprising given that it had the sixth lowest average household income of all cities in the study. With an average income of just under $29,000, residents have had to deal with the tangential consequences that come with that. That includes lower housing costs and, with fewer taxes available to support it, a low-performing public school system.
Youngstown is the second Ohio city to place in amongst the top ten poorest cities in the country. Nearly forty percent of the residents are living in poverty. Half the households in the city earned $25,000 a year, or less.
Kim Calvert, a vice president with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber is one of the people looking for ways to bring businesses and good-paying jobs in the community.
When asked if there were incentives that might make the region more attractive to businesses, Calvert said “The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber covers a two-county area (Mahoning and Trumbull) that has many benefits to the local companies that expand and companies that we attract to the market.”
“Each company’s needs are different, and there isn’t one specific incentive that sways a decision one way or another, but rather a full offer that is presented to support specific needs, including locating the appropriate building or site for new construction and a combined package of incentives or support from the local communities and the state,” Calvert continued.
The highest-ranking Ohio city on the list was Cleveland, which was given fifth place. As with other Ohio cities on the list, one of the prevailing factors for Cleveland’s appearance was its unemployment rate. In 2016, it was just under 7 percent, close to double the average for the state.
A spokesperson for the Greater Cleveland Partnership said that “The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been collecting member input and feedback to shape and prioritize the initiatives of the GCP Strategic Plan. One of the takeaways from the process is that GCP should continue to advocate for tax policies that balance the need for additional resources to drive economic development, without needlessly increasing the overall burden on businesses. Therefore, GCP is exploring the need for a new study that could examine the tax landscape in Cuyahoga County compared to similar markets.”
Detroit was named as the worst city to live in in the country. The report cited the loss of over a million residents from the area since the late 1950s (due to the decline of available manufacturing jobs) as one of the key reasons for its unenviable ranking.
Overall the study seemed to find a correlation amongst the categories it reviewed. While it did not attempt to provide ways for cities to move off of the list, the study authors did seem to suggest that the growth of business could play a substantial factor in the stability of a city. 24/7 Wall St., who commissioned the report, is a financial news and opinion website.
A version of this article appeared on the Watchdog.org website.
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