• The Rochesterian in Your Inbox:

    Join 622 other subscribers

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

For months, we’ve seen headlines proclaiming Rochester is leading the state in job growth. Today, another one came our way, telling us Rochester has gained back 98 percent of the jobs lost during the recession. Our region’s “success” was blamed on the loss of state economic development money.

Something doesn’t feel right. Does Rochester feel like a boom town to you? Are you better off than you were a few years ago?

“No, we’re not on the top of the world,” said Kent Gardner of the Center for Governmental Research.

The state comptroller reported Rochester lost 18,500 jobs between July 2008 and December 2009. We had gained back 18,100 jobs at the end of 2011.

But Gardner says Rochester wasn’t doing so hot before the recession hit. Our peak employment was in June, 2000, when we had 538,600 jobs. In December 2011, we had 524,700.

That’s a loss of 13,900 jobs over the last decade.

And those jobs we’ve gained? They pay less. Worker wages have dropped an average of $60 a week since 2008. The median household income in Monroe County is $49,532. If it had kept pace with inflation since 2000, it would be $58,000 to $59,000.

There are reasons to be optimistic, of course. “We have real breadth of growth. It’s sustainable,” said Gardner, pointing to 2 percent growth in manufacturing jobs. Other sectors are also doing well.

I’m happy to see Rochester lead the way. But I’ll be happier when we really feel it.

3 Responses to “Not on top of the world.”

  1. February 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm James Simons responds:

    This post is right on the money Rachel! While the fact that Rochester’s economy is leading the pack right now, it’s very important to keep reality in our minds. The fact that many of the jobs added are lower paying jobs, which has kept the median income low is a major problem. This is the exact type of issue that the Xerox call center highlights. People want to simply heap praise upon Xerox for gracing us with jobs. However, when you look deeper at what the jobs are that we are adding, how much is it helping this area? What people fail to grasp is that we are looking at the decline of the middle class if these are the only types of jobs available. It’s not like a job in a call center can really lead to much else other than a different call center job.

  2. February 3, 2012 at 6:30 am Rich Ross responds:

    Right you are Rachel and James. And with the bankruptcy filing of Kodak, more job losses loom.

  3. The reason manufacturing jobs leave Rochester and the rest of the US is simple….China pays its workers far less money than US manufacturers pay. With US companies, constantly under pressure for better and better profits, it’s a pretty simple decision for them to outsource the work, helps them for awhile anyway. Their alternative is leave the jobs here at $30 an hour and go out of business because their competition get their products from China.

    Pretty difficult to fight this outsourcing without adding tariffs to China based imports to the US in order to level the playing field with US companies. Unfortunately today’s $500 HD TV then goes to $700 and US consumers complain.

    No easy answers but $12 an hour jobs are still better than unemployment but obviously not as good as it used to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *