Ohio Unemployment Down: Families Still Suffering

Unemployment in Ohio, forclosures
Middle and upper class famillies in Ohio are "the new poor"

The state Department of Job and Family Services said Friday that Ohio’s jobless rate hit a seasonally adjusted 9.6 percent in December — that’s down from 9.8 percent in November and more than a percentage point below the 10.8 percent jobless rate seen a year ago, according to the Dayton Business Journal. The ranks of those unemployed and actively seeking work, meanwhile, fell by 13,000 to hit 567,000, marking the lowest number of unemployed Ohioans in nearly two years.

Sounds like promising news. But, for many Ohio families, the future’s not looking quite so sunny. Ohio families are hurting more and more are losing their homes. According to the Mansfield News Journal, “We continue to see unemployment as the major driver of foreclosures in Ohio.”  The newspaper quotes Cindy Flaherty, director of home ownership for the Ohio Home Finance Agency, who says, “Even when people get re-employed, the wages they are earning aren’t as good as prior.” Ohio is looking at a population of “the new poor” who are suffering from underemployment, or financial crises from continued unemployment, a medical crisis or divorce. In the same article, Loretta King of the Columbus Housing Partnership says: “In Columbus, we have concentrations of foreclosures in high-price loan areas and people living paycheck-to-paycheck. We now have middle-class and upper-class income families [being foreclosed on] that were [once] insulated.”

The foreclosure forecast still looks grim for 2011. The Mansfield News Journal says that “about 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.” Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, predicts 1.2 million homes will be repossessed in 2011.

I grew up in Ohio. And, I remember my father telling me that he loved it there for the high standard of living compared to other parts of the country. I remember it as a really great place to have grown up. Sadly, many people my own age are now seeing it more like this (warning: video contains language unsuitable for the office or small kids):

Photo:  Creative Commons/Flickr; by respres