by JASON TAYLOR
ROCHESTER, NY--It’s report card season, not just for schools about to release for summer vacation, but also for the Rochester region.
Last month, ACT Rochester released its annual report card covering key indicators of the nine-county Rochester region’s wellbeing.
Zooming in on Monroe County, the report suggests trends in some areas such as education and health are improving. But in other areas, such as the economy and economic security, trends born out over the past twenty years continue to indicate a challenging trajectory.
For example, the annual rate of job growth in Monroe County continues to be around less than half of the rate job growth experienced in the rest of New York and even across the rest of the nation.
But the quality of jobs matters as much as the quantity of jobs, and here too Monroe County continues to struggle. The average salary in Monroe County has increased by only 1% between 2000 to 2019, whereas the salaries across New York State and the rest of the nation have increased by 13%.
The sluggish job and salary growth demonstrably impacts both individual and household wellbeing. Over the same period from 2000 to 2019, the median household income in Monroe County has declined by nearly $9,000, or 13%.
Layered on top of the overall economic malaise are racial disparities, where the median household incomes of people of color less than half of those of white households.
ACT Rochester’s latest report card comes at a time of opportunity, where Monroe County and the the City of Rochester are collectively receiving around $350 million of highly discretionary funding from the American Rescue Plan. The City of Rochester is seeking community input on how the money could be spent.
JASON TAYLOR is a volunteer reporter for Reclaiming the Narrative, and the host of the public affairs show Evidence of Design on WXIR 100.9 FM. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.