WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Report highlights "hard facts" about racial disparities in 9-county Rochester region

Aug 17, 2017
Originally published on August 16, 2017 4:28 pm

Throughout their lives, and even from one generation to the next, African and American and Latino residents of the 9-county Rochester region fare much worse than their white counterparts when it comes to everything from health and education to wages and home ownership.

A wide range of data reflecting these glaring gaps is outlined in a report released today by ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation.

"What we're trying to say with this is we have large, large groups of people who are not fully participating in the economic and social outcomes of our entire region and that the region is paying a significant penalty for that in terms over overall prosperity," said Ed Dougherty, who authored the report called "Hard Facts."

Some of the data might look familiar. It has been on the ACT Rochester website for years. Dougherty said the new report is an attempt to connect the dots and make the information more accessible. Some of the findings:

The child poverty rate among African Americans in the 9-county Rochester region is 50%, compared to a 33% rate for African Americans statewide and 38% nationally.  42% of Latino children in the Rochester region are living in poverty versus 34% of Latino children across New York State and 32% nationally.

When it comes to median household income, African Americans in the 9-county region earn $27,078, significantly lower than African Americans’ $41,615 median income on a statewide level and $35,695 nationally.  The gaps are also significant for Latinos, whose median household income in the Rochester region is $29,991 versus a $40,824 median income for Latinos statewide and $42,651 on a national level.

Doherty said a lot of the data points to the lower end of the economic scale where people of color are missing out on opportunities, but there is another perspective that may shed light on the problem.

"You also have to look at the other end of the scale and say do we have what we would call our fair share opportunities for African Americans and Latinos at the upper middle class levels,” he said. “The data would suggest that we have an issue here that we really should be studying."

Doherty said there is no research to back it up, but it is possible that compared to major metropolitan areas, the Rochester region may not be as successful in attracting and retaining upper income individuals of color.

ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation say they hope the report inspires a broader community conversation about racial disparities.

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