Some interesting facts about Rochester

Here are some interesting facts about Rochester’s growth, diversity, and hidden poverty.  I am not sure who put this together, but based on the fact that a foot note is included, I will guess Phil Wheeler.


  1. The 2010 Census population for Rochester is 106,769. Rochester is the third largest and fastest growing city in Minnesota. Our population increased by 21,000 since 2000; our growth since 2000 is roughly equivalent to the total population of cities like Northfield, Albert Lea, or Golden Valley and a third larger than the total population of Red Wing.  Our estimate for 2012 population is 108,500.
  2. The minority population in Rochester was 2.6% in 1980, and is 21% in the 2010 Census, at 22,161.
  3. In the 2010-11 school year, slightly over 35% of the students in Rochester public schools qualified for lunch subsidies (based on income at or near poverty). Rochester is sixth highest in the number of eligible students among all districts in Minnesota. Of the 37 school systems with over 5,000 students, Rochester is 16th highest in the percentage of students eligible for subsidized lunch.
  4. Rochester has attracted a significant immigrant and refugee population. According to 2010 ACS data, 11.4% of the residents of Rochester were born outside the U.S. In the 2010-11 school year, 22% of Rochester public school students spoke a combined total of 63 languages other than English in the home. At 12.3% of students with limited English proficiency, Rochester is sixth highest among school districts with over 5,000 students in the proportion of students with limited English proficiency. Rochester has the fifth highest number of students with limited English proficiency among all districts in the state.
  5. In 2010, 25% of the jobs in Rochester’s businesses had average weekly wages equivalent to less than $600 and 9% had average weekly wages less than $371 (roughly equivalent to the poverty level for a family of three). Average weekly wages in low wage occupations  have declined 10%, adjusted for inflation, since 2000.
  6. Rochester is the primary destination of workers from an area of roughly 2,300 square miles in Southeastern Minnesota.  Based on Bureau of Economic Analysis, Census, and Minnesota DEED data, as of 2009, over 40,000 wage and salary workers commute to Rochester for work, with 62%  of commuters commuting from outside Olmsted County.
  7. From 2000 to 2010, while private sector nonfarm wage and salary employment in Minnesota declined 3.3%, Rochester’s private sector employment grew 4.8%. This amounts to over 3,400 new wage and salary jobs since 2000. Including all private sector workers and government workers, and including proprietors and self-employed workers, around 103,000 jobs are located in Rochester[1].

Chronology of Positive Events in Rochester’s Diversity History



1965 Formation of Rochester branch NAACP
1984 Founding of Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association
1989 Founding of Building Equality Together (now Diversity Council)
1995 Consensus Institute conducted for 60 community leaders, providing training in the process of reaching consensus respectful of diverse backgrounds and points of view
1996 Not In Our Town campaign
1999 21st Century Partnership Diversity Plan
  Adoption of Human Rights Ordinance countywide by Olmsted County Board
  Adoption of Policy on Affordable Housing and Diversity by Rochester Council
2003 Mayor Brede welcomes the Minnesota Gay Men’s Chorus (and stays throughout the performance)
2007 – ongoing Rochester Chamber of Commerce Workforce 2020 diversity initiatives
2010 Council creates domestic partner registry
2012 Council approves Bias/Hate Crime and Incident Response Plan

[1] Estimated by applying the share of Rochester private sector non-farm wage and salary jobs of Olmsted County in the same category to Bureau of Economic Analysis county level employment estimates, adjusted by subtracting farm employment.  r

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.