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Census shows population fell in Monroe County, metro area

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Monroe County and the Rochester metropolitan area both lost population over the past decade, according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Rochester metropolitan area, which includes the city, Monroe County, and several neighboring counties, fell 1.1 percent to 1,067,486 in 2020 from 1,079,671 in 2010, according to census figures.

Monroe County’s population fell by 0.5 percent, dropping to 740,900 in 2020 from 744,344 in 2010.

Monroe County and the Rochester metropolitan area.
  • Monroe County and the Rochester metropolitan area.
The Census Bureau hasn’t yet released a standalone population count for the city.

The population losses captured in the census are not precipitous, but they represent a reversal in direction.

This is only the second time since the county was founded in 1821 that the decennial census showed a population decline. The last time was in 1980, when the county’s official population fell to 702,238 from 711,917 in 1970. Between 1960 and 1970, the headcount had grown by over 20 percent, just as it did between 1950 and 1960. In recent decades, Monroe County showed modest gains, often of just a percentage point or two.



Similarly, the 2020 estimates mark the first time the metropolitan area population fell. It had grown every year between 1900 and 2010.

Rural counties, such as Genesee, Orleans, Wayne, and Livingston, all lost population between 2010 and 2020. The only county in Rochester’s metro to gain population was Ontario, which rose 2 percent to 110,091.

The declines mirror that of New York’s population. The state headcount fell by roughly 41,000 people to 19,336,776 from 19,378,102 in 2010. As a result, the state will lose a representative in Congress and have 26 seats in the House instead of 27. State lawmakers will decide which seat to eliminate during the redistricting process, which is supposed to conclude in time for the June 2022 primaries.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com.

This article has been updated to clarify that the figures released by the Census Bureau on May 4, 2021, were population estimates.

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