Census: More houses, but more overextended owners
Compared to a decade ago, Rochester has a lot more houses, more college-educated residents and an older population.
The U.S. Census Bureau's recently released 2009 estimates provide information about the city that's both encouraging and disturbing, says Phil Wheeler, planning director for Olmsted County and Rochester.
The number of housing units grew to an estimated 44,332 in 2009, from 35,224 in 2000, an increase of 21 percent. This corresponded with a population increase of 17 percent — to 103,480 in 2009, from 85,806 in 2000.
The increase in housing units is the result of a construction boom in the early part of the decade, during which building permits reached a high of 1,032 in 2004, and by annexation during the latter half of the decade, as the city embarked on a $22 million groundwater protection program.
But the disturbing part about the housing increase is that many residents bit off more than they could chew, leaving them "over-stretched" on their housing payments, Wheeler said. Homeowners are considered overextended when they're paying more than 30 percent of their income on monthly mortgage payments. The number of people in that position increased from 2,779 (13.2 percent) in 2000 to an estimated 6,641 (22 percent) in 2009.
"That's a whopping increase," Wheeler said.
The percentage of renters who are considered overextended increased also, to 4,371 (41 percent) in 2009, compared to 3,675 (38.4 percent) in 2000.
Elderly population on the rise
The 60-and-older set increased to an estimated 15.8 percent (16,225 people) of Rochester's population in 2009, compared to 14.9 percent in 2000. The median age increased to 35.5 in 2009; it was 34.3 years in 2000.
The increase is reflected in changes being proposed at Rochester Senior Center, which wants to relocate from downtown to the Rochester Recreation Center and expand.
"We're just out of space down here at the senior center," said executive assistant Stacie Baertsch. Room for storage and parking have reached their limit, she said.
The 2009 census estimates bolster Rochester's claim to being the most educated city in Minnesota.
The number of residents with college degrees increased to an estimated 46.5 percent in 2009, up from 38.1 percent in 2000. The total includes 18.5 percent (12,799) who have graduate or professional degrees, an increase from 15.5 percent in 2000. The number of residents with bachelor's degrees reached 28 percent (19,381) in 2009, from 22.6 percent) in 2000.
"This community values education, so it's not about getting a credential and stopping; you build on it," said Dave Weber, chief of strategic operations at Rochester Community and Technical College.
Also, there are more higher education opportunities in Rochester, including expanded programs at existing institutions and new outlets, such as the Minnesota School of Business, St. Scholastica, and Cardinal Stritch University.
Also, online education has skyrocketed at schools such as RCTC, Weber said. The amount of online coursework in 2000 was negligible but was 23 percent in 2009.
Within the data on poverty in Rochester, the number of single mothers stands out. Among the people living below the poverty line, an estimated 18.9 percent were single mothers.
Among all families, an estimated 5.7 percent lived in poverty in 2009, compared to 4.7 percent in 2000.