City of Rochester

Rochester Summary

Now available, view and print a summary of how the city of Rochester is performing on select ACT Rochester indicators.

Demographics & Income:

Between 2000 and 2017, Rochester saw a 6% decrease in its population, the smallest decline of any of the four cities compared. The demographic makeup of the city also changed from 2012 to 2017 as its African American population increased by 4%, Asians increased by 52%, and Hispanics by 33%, while the white population decreased by 8%.

In 2012-16, 33% of people in Rochester lived in poverty, 7 points higher than 2000, and higher than the state rate of 15%. Rochester had a higher child poverty rate (50%) than the state (22%) and other cities in the region. Both poverty and child poverty rates in Rochester had large disparities in terms of race and ethnicity, with people of color living in poverty at higher rates than whites.

Like the other cities in the region, Rochester had a decline in median household income from 2000 to 2012-17 at a greater rate than the state as a whole. Its level in 2012-16 was $31,700, the lowest of the four cities. There were great disparities in median household income between Black or African American and white households.


Homeownership rates have stayed fairly steady from 2000 to 2012-16, though Rochester had disparities in rates of ownership between whites and people of color.

Rochester saw its median home value decrease by 13% from 2000 to 2012-16 to $77,800, a larger decrease than for Geneva (down 9%), and in contrast to Canandaigua and the state (which increased by 17% and 35%, respectively).

An overall measure of housing affordability including both homeowners and renters shows that 47% of Rochester households were in 2012-16 paying more than 30% of their income in housing costs – a much higher share than at the state (33%) or regional (35%) level.

Rochester’s ratio of median home value to median household income, another measure of housing affordability for homeowners, increased by 8% from 2000 to 2012-16 to 2.5, bringing Rochester’s affordability above Batavia (2.2) and Geneva (2.4). A ratio below two or three is considered affordable.

In 2012-16, the average renter in Rochester spent $780, or 43% of household income on rent, higher than the share in Canandaigua (33%), Batavia (34%) and Geneva (36%). That made it the least affordable cities for renters.

Children & Youth:

In 2016, Rochester’s teen pregnancy rate was 5.4%, a decrease of almost 9 points from 2006, the largest decrease of any of the four cities in the region. Yet, Rochester had the highest teen pregnancy rate among the four cities. Rochester also saw a 1-point decline in low birth-weight babies (a leading predictor of neonatal death and higher risks of long-term developmental and neurological disabilities) from 2006 to 2016, bringing its rate to 10.8%, the highest rate of the four cities.


In 2017, Rochester spent $23,300 per student in its education system, below the state rate of $24,700. Rochester’s spending level has increased by 39% from the $16,750 it spent in 2000. This was the smallest increase of the four cities in the region. Although Rochester’s outcomes are lower than the state and other cities in the region, gains in outcomes have been achieved.

In 2018, Rochester’s 3rd grade English proficiency rate, an important measure of early reading skills, was 17%, below all of the cities in the region and the state (at 51%).  The rate increased by 11 percentage points from 2013 to 2018, the lowest improvement of any of the four cities. Rochester had tremendous disparities by ethnicity, with only 15% of its Hispanic students and 14% of African American students achieving proficiency (in comparison to 29% of white students), highlighting that its academic gains are not evenly distributed among students.

In contrast, 8th grade math proficiency, an important predictor of high school success in math, was at only 16% in 2017, a 5 percentage point gain from 2015. Rochester’s proficiency rate was far below Canandaigua (50%) Geneva (39%), Batavia (36%) and the state (43%).

Its high school graduation rate in 2017 was 57%, lower than the other cities in the region and the state rate of 82%. The graduation rate increased by 5 percentage points from 2008, the smallest increase for the cities compared. In comparison to 3rd grade reading, these academic gains are more evenly distributed, with Black students’ graduation rates falling only 2 percentage points below those of white students (59% and 61% respectively). However, Hispanic and Asian students are not served as well by the education system, with only 52% and 51%, respectively, graduating in 2017.  However, the biggest disparity observed across the four cities was in Geneva where 62% of Hispanic students graduated compared to 91% of white students.

Rochester has the highest rate of library visits per resident, with 7 visits in 2016. However, Rochester along with Canandaigua had the largest increase in this rate (17%) from 2000 while the other cities decreased or stayed the same during the same time period.


Rochester’s rate of serious crimes was 471 per 10,000 residents in 2017, the highest among other cities in the region and above the state (182). However, this reflected a 39% decrease in the rate from 2000. Rochester’s rate of violent crimes increased 22% in this time period. In contrast, its rate of property crime decreased 47% from 2000 to 2016. Rochester had a rate of 127 victims of domestic abuse per 10,000 residents. This was a higher rate than any of the other cities compared, and was more than four and a half times Geneva’s rate of 28 per 10,000. Rochester’s rate of domestic violence increased 16% from 2009 to 2017.