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Greater Ohio Policy Center - Press Release - Data Indicate Ohio's Legacy Cities Are Showing Signs of Improvement

January 09, 2020

Data Indicate Ohio's Legacy Cities Are Showing Signs of Improvement



January 9, 2020

Alison Goebel
Executive Director | 614-224-0187

Columbus, OH (January 9, 2020) – The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) has released its latest analysis of the economic and demographic performance of Ohio’s 22 legacy cities.  GOPC concludes that many of Ohio’s small and mid-sized legacy cities are showing signs of improvement since 2014, but they will require support from the state to be as strong as they were in 2000.

GOPC’s assessment is based on recently released 2018 American Community Survey data and is an update to GOPC’s 2016 report, “From Akron to Zanesville: How Are Ohio’s Small and Mid-Sized Legacy Cities Faring?”

What 2018 Data Show:

  • Legacy city population loss is slowing. Ohio’s legacy cities of all sizes experienced dramatic population loss from 2000 to 2014. Many continued to lose population from 2014 to 2018 but at much lower rates. The state, overall, and the City of Columbus have experienced population growth.
  • Unemployment is down across Ohio’s legacy cities. Unemployment rates ticked down between 2014 and 2018, but levels in small-, mid- and large-sized cities, and the state as a whole continued to exceed those of 2000. The proportion of adults working or looking for a job — a key indicator of economic health — has remained relatively stable in legacy cities since 2014.
  • Poverty and per capita incomes are improving. Since 2014, all size cohorts have seen a steady decrease in the number of individuals living in poverty. Per capita incomes were also up in 2018 — with some cohorts even slightly surpassing their 2000 levels.
  • Housing values and vacancy have seen positive change but remain a challenge, especially in small and mid-sized cities. From 2014 to 2018, all size cohorts saw declines in home values and growth in long-term housing vacancy. However, median housing values have improved for the state as a whole since 2014; and the number of long-term vacant housing units has decreased statewide; this suggests Ohio’s housing markets are starting to stabilize and, in some places, rebuild.

While challenges remain for Ohio’s legacy cities, research surveying similar cities makes clear that these communities’ current conditions do not have to dictate their destiny. GOPC and Ohio’s 16 small legacy cities, which call themselves the Reinvention Cities Network, continue to work to identify, develop, and advocate for policy solutions that support the revitalization of Ohio’s legacy cities.

To learn more about Ohio’s Legacy Cities, visit:, and select the January 2020 Update; or contact Alison D. Goebel at (614) 224-0187 or via email at

About Greater Ohio Policy Center
Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a mission to improve Ohio’s communities through smart growth strategies and research. Our vision is a revitalized Ohio. We undertake original research and analysis, develop pragmatic policy recommendations and advocacy strategies, and deploy our convening power to meet the needs of Ohio’s local change-makers. We operate statewide.

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