Ohio’s economy has bounced back. Jobs are plentiful. Unemployment is at its lowest level in nearly two decades.

But for Ohio’s lowest paid workers, a full-time job doesn’t cut it.

Someone working full-time at minimum wage cannot afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment or keep a car on the road. Public transportation is spotty.

A pair of reports released on Friday outline the challenges the poor face to becoming self-sufficient.

Of the 10 most common jobs in Ohio, only three pay enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment renting for no more than $1,000 a month, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

In Columbus, the city with the most expensive housing in the state, one would have to make $17.50 an hour – about $36,000 a year – to afford a two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of their income, the standard for housing affordability.

Statewide, the average hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $15.73. Median wages for registered nurses, customer service representatives and office clerks exceed that amount. But earnings for salespersons, cashiers, janitors, store clerks and other common jobs pay less than what is needed for housing, the report found.

"We hear a lot about how great the economy is these days, but it’s not so great for the hundreds of thousands of low-wage Ohioans who are struggling to keep their families stably housed," said Bill Faith, executive director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

When families have to spend more of their income to housing, they have less for other basic needs like food and health care, he said.

"The high-rent, low-wage gap explains why we’re seeing more and more children and families showing up at homeless shelters."

In its annual poverty report, the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies said that finding a job with affordable housing nearby and access to transportation is a challenge for low-income families.

"Ohio counties with more affordable housing options have fewer opportunities for living-wage employment and transportation. And, counties with more access to transportation and jobs have fewer affordable housing options," said Philip E. Cole, executive director of the association.

The poverty report pointed to some positive signs – unemployment rates are down, job growth is up and the poverty rate has dropped. Still, many low-income Ohioans are working more and making less.

"Unfortunately, Ohio’s low unemployment and high job growth have not led to increased wages for Ohioans. Despite worker productivity increasing by two-thirds since 1979, wages have increased by 3.8% after adjusting for inflation. In fact, the bottom 10th percentile of wage earners actually make 7 cents less per hour than they did in 1979, after adjusting for inflation," the report found.

Today, one in four families who rent pays at least half of their income on housing, the report found.

Six of the top 10 most common jobs earn so little that a family of three would qualify for government food assistance even though they work full-time.

The report also highlighted the need for affordable transportation, finding that less than 20 percent of jobs in Ohio’s biggest metropolitan areas can be accessed in less than 60 minutes using public transportation. About a third of Ohio counties — nearly 1 million people — have no access to public transportation.

As state lawmakers finalize Ohio’s next state budget, advocates for the poor are urging them to address the challenges families face to make ends meet.

Faith has proposed to increase funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, which helps the homeless, finances home repairs for seniors, as well as housing for low-income families. The fund receives half of all county recorder fees, about $45 million in recent years.

Cole said lawmakers should devote more tax dollars to helping the poor, like funding for public transportation, and less to those who don’t need it.

"We all get ‘public assistance’ from the government and we should not treat the poor differently because their help is labeled ‘assistance’ while help for others is called ‘tax abatement’ or ‘tax deduction," Cole said.

"It is all shifting money from one group to another, and the burden is shifting to the poor as we gradually have provided more benefits to the wealthy."