For detailed tables from the 2012 American Community Survey, see the end of the story.
David Knox | The Gazette
Household incomes are up in Medina County — for the first time since the end of the recession in 2009, the Census Bureau reported today.
The county’s median household income rose to $65,078 last year, up 7 percent from 2011, according to the 2012 American Community Survey.
Medina’s $4,262 income increase was the third largest of the 38 Ohio counties included in the annual study, which is limited to counties and cities with populations of about 65,000 or more.
The improvement in earning was not across the board. While 20 counties reported household incomes higher, 18 saw declines.
Among Medina’s neighboring counties, incomes declined in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties, but rose in Summit and Wayne counties.
Ohio’s cities also were a mixed bag. Half of the state’s largest cities — Akron, Canton, Columbus, Dayton and Parma — posted income increases, while incomes in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Lorain and Youngstown declined.
Youngstown reported the biggest median income drop — 6 percent — slipping to $23,008.
Statewide, the Census Bureau found incomes up a fraction to $46,829. The slight 0.3-percent increase ended four years of declines in the bellwether statistic that marks the midpoint of incomes, meaning half of all households took in more and half less.
Nationally, the median household income slipped about a half percent to $51,371 — the fifth straight year of declines.
Experts point to the survey’s mixed results as another indication of the painfully slow recovery from the Great Recession, which officially ended more than four years ago, in June 2009.
Bethany Dentler, executive director of the Medina County Economic Development Corp., said a slow recovery was to be expected.
“The one we’ve just been through is the longest and deepest since the Great Recession” of the 1930s, she said.
Dentler said she wasn’t surprised that Medina County was showing signs of recovery.
“I don’t find it surprising at all,” she said. “It what’s we’ve been seeing in the county economy over the last 18 months.”
Dentler pointed to tax abatements issued last year to several expanding manufacturers in the county.
“I’ve been here five years, but last year was the first time we negotiated tax abatements,” she said.
She also said that Medina County’s well-educated workforce benefited from the resurgence last year of the financial sector, which provides many good-paying, middle-class jobs.
George Zeller, a Cleveland-based economic researcher, agreed that the Ohio economy is improving but remains weak.
“The problem is that our recovery is slow,” he said. “It is also full of inequality.”
Zeller said Ohio is not producing the jobs needed to fuel a full recovery.
“The five-county Cleveland-Akron-Lorain-Elyria-Mentor region, which includes Medina County, has lost more jobs for three consecutive months than any of the other more than 270 metro regions in the United States,” he said.
Zeller pointed out that incomes in improving communities remain well below pre-recession levels. He pointed out that Medina County’s median household income is nearly $12,000 lower than the $76,908, adjusted for inflation, reported in 1999 by the 2000 census.
“Medina County is still 15.4 percent below 1999,” Zeller said.
Higher incomes weren’t the only good economic news for Medina County in the new report.
The study found the individual poverty rate dropped to 7.7 percent last year, down from a high of 10.2 percent in 2011.
Median home values also inched up nearly 1 percent to $179,000, following three straight years of declines.
Medina County Auditor Michael E. Kovack said the increase “mirrored what we’re seeing — an uptick in home prices since the last half of 2012.”
Medina’s higher home values were unusual. Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lorain and Summit counties all posted declines.
The study also found lower home values in all 10 large cities in Ohio.
Tim Smith, the economic development manager of the city of Brunswick, said the increase in home values and incomes in Medina County are related.
“In the last five years, there’s been more than 3,000 new homes built in Brunswick, Brunswick Hills, Hinckley and Medina Township,” he said. “Who’s moving into those houses?
“People with higher incomes.”
Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or email@example.com.
Democraphic profile of Medina County:
1. Counts of population by gender, age, race and ethnicity and of housing
2. Social characteristics
3. Economic characteristics
4. Housing characteristics