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Scorecard shows economic inequity in Rochester

It’s a scorecard without a score, but the numbers speak for themselves.

Rochester residents of color trail their white counterparts in every category that measures economic stability, according to a new report from Prosperity Now, a nonprofit organization that advocates for, develops and tests approaches to build wealth.

The income poverty rate among all city of Rochester residents is 26.7 percent, according to the report. And while that rate is 11.1 percent for white, non-Hispanic residents, the income poverty rate for people of color is 34.1 percent. Rochester’s Latino population has an income poverty rate of 37.9 percent, American Indian’s is 35.2 percent and African American’s is 33.4 percent.

The overall unemployment rate at the time the Prosperity Now Scorecard was researched was 10.2 percent. But among white residents that rate was just 4.1 percent. People of color had an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent.

The homeownership rate in the city of Rochester was 36.4 percent. White residents had a homeownership rate of 47 percent, while people of color had a rate of 27.8 percent. And the percentage of Rochester residents with a four-year college degree was 25.1 percent. Some 42.3 percent of white residents had a four-year degree, but just 11.7 percent of residents of color had a four-year degree.

The data improves when the entire county of Monroe is analyzed. The income poverty rate decreased to 10 percent, with the white population poverty rate of 4.3 percent and the poverty rate countywide for people of color of 26.7 percent. The unemployment rate countywide was 4.5 percent; white residents had an unemployment rate of 3 percent, while residents of color had a rate of 7.4 percent.

The report notes that “racial economic inequality limits a household’s ability to achieve prosperity, and it is important to explore the impact that race and ethnicity have on outcomes.”

Though the Scorecard does not assess localities on local-level policy measures, Prosperity Now has assembled resources into a guide for municipal policymakers and advocates that can be used to enact policies that can have positive impacts on the Scorecard’s local outcome measures: A Municipal Blueprint for a More Inclusive Path to Prosperity.

Key elements include:
• Raise the minimum wage in line with the local cost of living
• Promote and provide access to safe and affordable banking products
• Promote free and low-cost tax prep services and tax credits
• Keep residents in their homes by helping avoid evictions, prohibiting source of income discrimination for low-income renters and providing mortgage foreclosure and property tax diversion programs for homeowners
• Prioritize entrepreneurs of color for procurement and contracting

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