Rochester poverty, child poverty rates on slight decline

Dec 10, 2017

Credit RMAPI

New data released by the US Census Bureau for the most recent five year period indicates a slight decline in overall poverty rates and child poverty rates throughout the City of Rochester.

The data, updated from 2015 shows the overall poverty rate dropped from 33.5% to 32.8% meaning there are 1,200 fewer people living in poverty, including 876 fewer children living in poverty.

Ann Johnson, Senior Director of ACT Rochester says we haven’t turned a corner quite yet, but it’s good to recognize any change.

"My position has been if we stop going in the negative direction, we should celebrate. We should really feel that we've got a base line that we can now as a community and with the work we're doing, start to see some progress."

Johnson says that decrease has come from hard work from both local agencies, and people in poverty wanting to be part of the initiative.

She says collaborations are key.

"While we've worked in silos for many years because that’s how we’ve been rewarded, there’s an effort now to see how what each silo is doing can leverage other areas that we're not necessarily responsible for."

But not all numbers improved in the report. The city’s rate of extreme poverty remained the same at about 16.3%. Johnson that they’re still figuring out how to focus in on that area.

“Look at a family of four. If they’re not in poverty, they’re bringing home $25,000 which means they’re certainly not self-sufficient. If they’re in extreme poverty, that means they’re at around $12,000 a year. That’s a very tough population."

The report also put Rochester’s poverty rate into context by comparing the city’s statistics against 18 other similar sized cities, with around 200,000 residents.

Among that group, Rochester still ranks number one in overall poverty.