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Signs of health in the heart of the local economy

For the third straight year, the primary focus of the RBJ 75 is jobs. The reason why also remains the same: For a regional economy, nothing matters more.

Now in its 28th year, this publication identifies the 75 largest employers—public, private and non-profit—and analyzes their performance by various measures. These companies and organizations are the heart of the Greater Rochester economy, and all area residents have a stake in their success.

A year ago, we said it would be hard to overstate the importance of the non-profit sector. That’s still true—only more so. This year, 25 non-profits earned spots on the RBJ 75 list, unchanged from a year ago. But together they added 2,860 jobs; that’s up from an increase of 1,554 a year ago.

Non-profits now employ 72,897 people, about 51 percent, of the 141,502 workers on RBJ 75 payrolls.

The 27 public companies on the list employ 34,909 people, or 25 percent. That’s an increase from a year ago. It’s also a welcome turnaround: In 2015, the public companies that made the list had 229 fewer jobs than they did the year before. (It’s not possible to say for sure how many jobs these 27 firms together added, though with 2015 numbers for all but one, a direct comparison shows an increase of more than 1,300).

The 23 private companies on the list employ nearly as many as the public firms, but the gap has widened slightly. Together, the private companies now employ 33,696 versus 34,106 a year ago, a drop of 410.

Who added the most jobs? By virtue of its merger with Exelis Inc., Harris Corp. ranks No. 1, up 1,350. It is followed by the University of Rochester (917) and the Center for Disability Rights Inc. (674), which grew to 1,569 from 895. Completing the top five are the YMCA of Greater Rochester (320) and Heritage Christian Services Inc. (299).

Overall, 44 of the RBJ 75 employers added jobs, up from 41 a year ago. Eighteen trimmed their payrolls, compared with 23 last year, and 12 were unchanged, versus 10 a year ago. As noted above, one is N.A.

With its increase of 917 jobs, overall No. 1 UR reached a total of 27,590. Second-ranked Rochester Regional Health also grew; it now employs 15,753. With a regional staff of 13,606, Wegmans continues to be No. 1 among the private companies; and though a bit smaller, Xerox’s local workforce of 6,396 still is largest among the public-company employers.

Though we’ve now done it 28 times, the job of compiling the information needed to produce an annual publication like this always poses challenges. Our primary source of information is responses to RBJ surveys, but if need be we’ll use any credible source.

Don’t hesitate to contact me—by phone at (585) 546-8303 or by email at rbj@rbj.net—if you see what appears to be an error. And as always, we’re eager to get feedback and ideas for the next RBJ 75.

4/29/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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