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Rochester Still Fifth Poorest City in the Nation; Holds Highest Child Poverty Rates, Report Finds

City of RochesterA new study released by the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and ACT Rochester, has found that Rochester poverty has gotten worse in 2015, compared to 17 other similar-sized cities in the U.S.

According to U.S. Census data over a five-year period, the study, “Benchmarking Rochester’s Poverty: A 2015 Update and Deeper Analysis of Poverty in the City of Rochester,” has found Rochester remains the fifth poorest city in the nation, a designation the city still holds from the foundation’s 2013 analysis, and that child poverty in the city has gotten worse.

“Several of the report’s child-related poverty statistics are the most troubling,” said author of the study, former community foundation vice president, Ed Doherty.

According to Doherty, only three other cities in the top 75 metro areas have higher child poverty rates than Rochester, and they are: Detroit, Cleveland, and Dayton.

The report also found the following additional findings:

• The city’s poverty rate continues to rise, and is now at 32.9 percent.

• Poverty rates for African Americans (nearly 40 percent) and Hispanics (over 44 percent) are disproportionate to those of whites, at 23 percent.

• The city’s childhood poverty rate has increased to 50.1 percent, ranking highest among the 18 benchmark cities. In that group, Rochester is now the only city where more than half of the children live in poverty; and

• Among those benchmark cities, Rochester now has the highest rate of extreme poverty (16.2 percent), defined as people living below 50 percent of the federal poverty level (which is less than $11,925 a year for a family of four).

In addition, more than 25,000 children under age 18 in Rochester are living in poverty; and Rochester’s poverty rate for families headed by females is the highest among the benchmark group of cities.

“The first poverty report and its startling statistics were a wake-up call for our entire region to better understand the depth of poverty that exists in every city, town, and village,” said Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of Rochester Area Community Foundation. “Benchmarking Rochester’s Poverty provides an opportunity to update key data from that report and take a deeper look at the realities of poverty in the vity of Rochester.”

Visit ACTRochester.org/Poverty to view the report, or the RACF website at racf.org/Reports.