Policy Matters Ohio: State of Working Ohio Report

The work of Policy Matters Ohio has contributed substantially to innovative policy changes that improve the lives of Ohio families and strengthen Ohio communities.

Each Labor Day, we release the State of Working Ohio report, which is chock full of data on how working Ohioans are faring. We also provide policy solutions that will help bring down rising prices; ensure people of all backgrounds have the tools and opportunities to provide for themselves and their families; mandate employers pay people a fair return on their work; and help working people have a collective voice on the job. That report alone provides us with enough numbers to pack “Saturday Stats” for the rest of the year, but here are a few data points we think are most important:

15% v. 6.8%: That was Ohio’s Black unemployment rate last year compared to the white unemployment rate. In good times and in bad, the unemployment rate for Black Ohioans is routinely about double the rate for white Ohioans.

Nearly $5: Employers have cut wages for Black men by nearly $5 per hour since 1979. Black men were paid 91 cents to white men’s $1 in 1979, a shortfall of $2.25 per hour. The data show that since 1979 employers have increased wages for Black and white women (albeit not enough to reflect the value of wealth they create), but they pushed down wages for Black men and by a smaller amount for white men.

$0.81: In 2021, women were paid 81 cents to men’s $1. Not only are women paid less than men, but they are also more likely to take on unpaid care work for children or aging loved ones. Though policymakers should do more make sure women are paid a fair return on their work, increased women’s wages are one of the best long-term trends in Ohio’s labor market.

2X: Overall, working people with college degrees are paid nearly twice as much as high school graduates. But those benefits are not spread evenly across race and gender. Earning a college degree provides a larger payoff compared to a high school diploma for white Ohioans than their Black counterparts. Men with only a high school diploma are paid more than women who have some college.

$5: Ohioans represented by unions are paid nearly $5 more an hour than those who are not: $24.75 compared to $19.91.

114.4% v. 12.3%: Since 1979, working Ohioans have increased the value of goods and services produced in our state by 114.4%, but the richest Ohioans and wealthy corporations have captured most of that wealth: Employers have increased wages by only 12.3% during that time.

$51 million: That’s the amount of money Columbus officials gave to wealthy developers and corporations since 2014. Those tax abatements drains resources from Columbus City Schools, which along with underfunding from the state, helped create the conditions for the Columbus Education Association strike, writes State Policy Fellow­ Tanisha Pruitt, Ph.D. (The strike ended with a new contract and a great victory for students, educators and the community!)

15%, Or 1.7 million Ohioans have student loans. Piet van Lier was on TV talking about why President Biden’s cancellation of up to $20,000 in education debt will especially help Ohioans who weren’t born into well-to-do families. Instead of paying off loans, they can buy a home or pay for their own kids’ education. That will make our entire state stronger and more prosperous.