Our area's economy has undergone many transformations during its history. Water-powered mills helped Rochester become the "Flour City" in the early 19th century. The opening of the Erie Canal made the city an early American boomtown, and the development of the photographic industry catapulted Rochester into a position of worldwide economic significance. Today we are transforming to a more diverse economy focused on high-technology industry, education, health care, and a growing small and mid-sized business sector. This transformation reflects the national trend from manufacturing. Locally, significant losses in manufacturing have been offset by gains in other sectors, particularly education and financial activities.
Between 2019 and 2020, the region lost almost 58,000 jobs due to COVID-19 and ensuing shutdowns. The rate of decrease in 2020 (8%) was below the state (9.1%) and above the nation (5.4%). The region's employment-to-population ratio in 2015-19 was slightly higher than the state and similar to the nation at 60%.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdowns increased the region’s unemployment rate to 8.1% in 2020, similar to the nation but below the state. The region’s rate jumped from 5.6% in 2008 to a high of 8.1% in 2010 before beginning to descend in 2013, with a low of 3.9% in 2019.
The Educational Services and Financial Activities in the region grew between 2001 and 2020 (37% and 29%), while jobs in the Manufacturing and Information sectors declined (39% and 51% respectively). The Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector provided the most jobs in the region at 16% of the total in 2020, followed by Health Care and Social Assistance and Professional and Business Services sectors making up 14% and 13% of the total.
The average salary in 2020 in the region of $55,100 was below the state ($83,100) and national ($64,000) figures. All sectors have wages below state figures, and the rate of increase in average salary has consistently lagged in comparison since 2004.
Since 2000, the number of businesses in the region has grown 11%. Gaining sectors included Educational Services and Professional and Business Sectors.
The gender pay gap in our region is similar to the state and nation, with females earning about 68 cents for every dollar earned by males.
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