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2 D & C Income Decline 10-28-09 3p

2 D & C Income Decline 10-28-09 3p

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Published by: xjax on Nov 19, 2009
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October 28, 2009
Area household incomes falling short
 Bennett J. LoudonStaff writer 
Income declines in the Rochester area are outpacing national and statewide trends, according tonew U.S. Census Bureau data.Median household income declined 4 percent nationwide and 1 percent in New York state from1999 to 2008, when adjusted for inflation, while Monroe County saw an 11 percent drop, theequivalent of about $6,300.The inflation-adjusted decline was less in some Monroe County towns, but the smallest drop was8 percent. And two towns, Irondequoit and Perinton, saw a 15 percent decline, according to thecensus data.The decline in the state and the Rochester area stems from a loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs and the exodus of more than 1.5 million residents, representing billions of dollars in income.Smaller incomes mean families have less to spend at local businesses while governments facean increased demand for services for the poor and aging while trying to keep taxes under control."I think a lot of what we're looking at since 2000 is Kodak-related," said Kent Gardner, presidentof the Center for Governmental Research.Eastman Kodak Co.'s work force in Rochester has declined from about 24,000 at the end of 2000to 8,500 at the end of 2008.In addition, job losses at many small companies in the information technology andtelecommunications industries factored into the income declines, Gardner said."Retailers are dividing up smaller total spending. Total spending is less because people have lessdisposable incomes," he said.And smaller incomes mean fewer donations to charities and nonprofits, Gardner said.In 2007 and 2008, the United Way of Greater Rochester fell short of the organization's annualfundraising goal. As a result, the goal was lowered in 2009, when about $29 million — $750,000more than the goal — was raised.The information released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau is included in new data on avariety of topics based on surveys conducted in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The new statistics areavailable for communities with populations of at least 20,000, which includes 10 suburban townsin addition to the city of Rochester and Monroe County.In September, the Census Bureau released similar data for communities with populations of atleast 65,000, based on surveys conducted in 2008. In the Rochester area, that included Greece,Rochester and Monroe County.Because the data released Tuesday reflects surveys conducted over a three-year period, censusofficials consider it more accurate, although both sets of data are estimates. And the new
estimates for the three communities with populations over 65,000 are slightly different from theestimates released last month because they are based on surveys done over a different period.In addition to the loss of high-wage jobs, incomes are being driven down because high-incomefamilies are moving to other states, according to a recent report from the Empire Center for NewYork State Policy.Between 2000 and 2008, the state's total population grew by more than 450,000, partly due tobirths and immigration from other countries. But the increase would have been greater if not for the fact that more than 1.5 million more people left New York for other states than moved to NewYork. And the people who left the state tend to be wealthier than those moving to the state,according to the report.In 2007, for example, the income of households moving out of the state averaged 13 percentmore than those moving in, according to the report prepared for the Empire Center by WendellCox, a researcher at Demographia, a consulting firm in Belleville, Ill.There is some evidence that income declines may be leveling off. Median household income inMonroe County increased 2 percent, when adjusted for inflation, between 2005 and 2008. InRochester, the gain was 5 percent. But in Greece, median household income declined by 1percent during that period. Data is not available to make similar comparisons in other MonroeCounty communities.Tony Favro, director of planning in Irondequoit, is skeptical about the accuracy of the census datashowing a 15 percent decline in inflation-adjusted median household income for the townbetween 1999 and 2008.He said the Census Bureau "is notorious for underestimating population and income" in yearsbetween the decennial census."I don't think people should be alarmed because when the (decennial) census comes out ... thenumbers are going to be more favorable for this region than the estimates," he said.BLOUDON@DemocratandChronicle.com

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