WILMINGTON — There was almost a $10,000 drop in median household income in the city between the years 2009 and 2014.
The figure was part of an economic report presented to city council Thursday by Mark Rembert of Wilmington. Rembert is a doctoral student in agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University and a co-founder of Energize Clinton County.
According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in the city in 2009 was about $40,000. By 2014, it was just over $30,000.
Rembert characterized the amount of the decrease as “very, very significant.”
A median household income refers to the income level earned by a given household where half of the homes in the area earn more and half earn less.
During that same 2009-14 time period, the median household income in Clinton County as a whole dropped a little bit, said Rembert, but less drastic when compared to the city.
“The city has really been impacted much more than the county as a whole,” he said.
Another striking piece of data included charts showing a breakdown — via brackets of earnings — for the range of household income in the city between the years 2009 and 2014.
In 2009, there were 10 percent of Wilmington households where the income was less than $10,000. In 2014, there were 14.1 percent of Wilmington households where income was less than $10,000.
“This is pretty extreme poverty,” Rembert said.
His report held some positives.
Clinton County as a whole is at its highest level of employment since 2009, the year when DHL pulled out of the Wilmington Air Park.
Another positive: In terms of the annual employment growth rates for the state of Ohio and for Clinton County, as of 2015 the county’s rate is growing a little more than the state’s.
There were also data regarding Clinton County’s working-age population — that is, county residents from the ages of 18 through 64.
In 2007, about 92 percent of the county’s working-age residents were either employed or, if not, were looking for work. In 2014, about 68 percent of working-age Clinton Countians were either employed or looking for work.
In other words, in 2007 before the Great Recession struck, 8 percent of county residents of working-age were not looking for jobs. By 2014, that had grown to 22 percent, according to Rembert’s sources — the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
He elaborated that these people have not left the county, but that rather they’re not looking for employment.
“These are people we need to bring back into the workforce, especially now as many employers are hiring. How do we bring them back into the workforce? I think that’s one of our biggest challenges economically, as a city and a county, moving forward,” said Rembert.
Clinton County experienced the largest drop in its share of employment of any county with a population greater than 20,000 in the United States during the recession, he said.
“I think it’s safe to say we were the hardest-hit county in the country during the Great Recession,” Rembert added.
After the council meeting, Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth was asked his reactions to the information.
“Sad. It’s just sad,” Stanforth said.
“We haven’t come back yet, have we? Now, it did look — a little encouraging part — it looked like we’ve turned from the bottom and it looks like we’re turning up. And we really have to hope for that. And I’m an optimist anyway,” said the first-year mayor.
In particular, he pointed to the data about “our declining incomes” as saddening.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.