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Economic Innovation Group

Economic Innovation Group

Many residents of the city of Rochester have been left behind by the economic recovery, according to a report from the Economic Innovation Group. The group looked at seven measurements of a city’s health from 2010 to 2013. Those measurements include adults without a high school degree, income, poverty rate, housing vacancy rate, businesses lost or gained, jobs lost or gained and percentage of adults not working. Distressed cities were given a score, with 100 being the maximum distress level.

In Rochester, most zip codes in the city had a distress score over 90 percent. Consider 14613, which encompasses Maplewood and Edgerton. One out of five adults doesn’t have a high school degree. One out of four homes is vacant. One out of 10 businesses closed. The employment rate fell 9 percent. This zip code is among the 500 most distressed in the entire country. Its distress score is 98.

Go over to 14605, the neighborhood just to the northeast of downtown and you see 60 percent of adults without jobs and half of residents living in poverty. Although employment ticked up 1 percent, incomes remain one-third of the median.

Looking at the map, you see things change dramatically as you cross city lines. The suburbs recovered nicely from the economic downturn. In Brighton, employment increased 11.5 percent. The number of businesses went up 3.5 percent. Residents earn 139 percent of the median income. The poverty rate is 7 percent. Brighton has a distress score of 6.5

In Penfield, employment went up 10.5 percent and the number of businesses increased 5.5 percent. The housing vacancy rate is 3 percent. The community’s distress score is 4.1.

These stark inequalities put Monroe County among the top 20 most unequal counties in the entire country. Erie County is also on this list.

Also of note, Utica is among the country’s 10 most distressed cities and Buffalo is among 10 largest distressed cities. Some rural areas are very distressed, including Albion and Lyons.

The authors of the report write:

“The analysis finds that for those living in distressed zip codes, the years of overall U.S. economic recovery have looked much more like an ongoing downturn. Large swathes of the country are indeed being left behind by economic growth and change. The phenomenon is taking place at many different scales: Well-being diverges between cities and states but even more starkly within cities and at the neighborhood level.”

The New York Times reported:

“It’s almost like you are looking at two different countries,” said Steve Glickman, executive director of the Economic Innovation Group…

“The most prosperous areas have enjoyed rocket-shiplike growth,” said John Lettieri, senior director for policy and strategy at the Economic Innovation Group. “There you are very unlikely to run into someone without a high school diploma, a person living below the poverty line or a vacant house. That is just not part of your experience.”

By contrast, in places the recovery has passed by, things look very different.

Monroe County is trying to tackle these inequities through the anti-poverty initiative. Rochester’s mayor is also exploring worker-owned businesses.

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6 Responses to Left Behind

  1. I find it’s always easy to poke holes in stories like these, I would rather see the data from a larger period. Where did these areas stand before the recession hit originally? If they had less of a distance to fall in the first place, it also makes sense to me that they wouldn’t rebound as hard as other areas so this data isn’t exactly shocking. Not trying to downplay the serious poverty problem many areas of the city have, just feel like it’s a little misleading to say people got left behind by the recovery if they weren’t a major part of the economy in the first place.

  2. Unfortunately there is a flaw in the survey.

    As people who live in poverty become more successful they move away from the `poor’ neighborhood and into a better one. The result is the poor neighborhoods are populated only by those who weren’t able to move out. The only way to show improvement is to have those who are successful remain in a poor neighborhood.

    Many people in poor neighborhoods say they want to be successful so they can leave that area. Since poor neighborhoods are left with those not successful, they are not going to show an improvement statistically. Even with success stories, the areas will be shown as poor.

  3. This is a misleading report. The City of Rochester has only 36 square miles out of the nearly 700 square miles of Monroe County.
    The older cities in the Eastern part of the country like Rochester, Buffalo, Providence etc., stopped annexing suburbs in the early part of the 20th century.
    Similar population size cities in other parts of the county might be 150-200 square miles and include what would be the inner suburbs of Rochester.
    A valid ranking would need to control for this by measuring poverty ,say from a 10 mile radius from the city center

  4. Typo…should read other parts of the country

  5. February 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm Mary Ellen Belding responds:

    It would be very interesting to review a similar report depicting the taxpayer dollars that have been spent in the Rochester area. It should be compiled comparing the dollars received for economic recovery and eliminating poverty. The report should also identify the organizations/interests that received the money and any tax incentives that were provided at the cost of the taxpayer. An analysis of the success of the dollars spent and how it impacted reducing the poverty level.

  6. It all boils down to education, again,…and again. Education is the antidote to poverty. We refuse to provide relevant education. We insist on boring our urban youth with academics which do not register with them. We need an approach that connects with them. Well,…do something you say! I have been, but the experts do not care to even listen. We can’t even get to the listening stage on our education crisis. The RCSD doesn’t want to hear it. They know better and we know where that has gotten us to date.

    We really don’t “leave anyone behind”, we simply don’t educate with relevant education to enable them to keep up.

    I have been at drawing attention to this relevant education issue for over four years now. I don’t look for a pat on the back, nor riches, nor fame. I would appreciate an ear, an opportunity, to share my lifelong findings on the subject. Again, not looking for any “adoption” of my thoughts, just a place to express them.

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