Rochester is a city located in Olmsted County Minnesota. It is also the county seat of Olmsted County. With a 2020 population of 122,711, it is the 3rd largest city in Minnesota (after Minneapolis and St. Paul) and the 233rd largest city in the United States . Rochester is currently growing at a rate of 1.56% annually and its population has increased by 14.93% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 106,769 in 2010. Rochester reached it's highest population of 122,711 in 2021. Spanning over 55 miles, Rochester has a population density of 2,223 people per square mile.
The average household income in Rochester is $96,015 with a poverty rate of 10.07%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $974 per month, and the median house value is $200,100. The median age in Rochester is 35.7 years, 35 years for males, and 36.9 years for females.
Rochester is located along the Zumbro River in the Southeast region, and it serves as the county seat for Olmstead County. Numerous publications have named Rochester as one of the best places in the country to live, and it is also one of the most educated cities in the world.
Rochester Population and Economy Statistics
The city’s top employer is the Mayo Clinic, which employs over 34,000 people. IBM is another top employer, providing jobs to nearly 3,000 people. Other top employers include Rochester Public Schools, the City of Rochester and Olmsted County.
Rochester Population Growth
Rochester has seen its population grow at a steady rate since the 19th century. The city’s population rose to over 5,000 by 1880 and had more than doubled by 1920. The city’s population reached over 50,000 at the time of the 1970 census. This number more than doubled by the 2010 census. Current estimates show that the population is up almost 7% since the last census, indicating that this city will continue to see growth into the future.
The region that is now the city of Rochester was initially inhabited by native tribes including the Sioux and Winnebago people. European explorers arrived in 1660. It wasn’t until 1853 when a treaty with the U.S. government transferred hands from the Dakota/Sioux Indians to the government.
Rochester was originally a stagecoach coach located between Dubuque, Iowa, and Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 1854, George Head laid claims to land which now make up the central business district of Rochester. One year later, Olmsted County was established, and Rochester was designated as the county seat. In 1858, it received designation as a city. The area began to expand, and the population grew with the arrival of the Winona and St. Peter Railroad in 1864. By 1880, the city had a population of over 5,000.
The city was struck by disaster with a tornado that killed 24 and injured 100 - this same system also destroyed many buildings in the area. Dr. W.W. Mayo, the “County Doctor” and the Sisters of Saint Francis were of great assistance following the storm. Shortly after, the Sisters approached Dr. Mayo with an opportunity to build a hospital provided that Dr. Mayo and his sons would join the practice. This partnership led to St. Marys Hospital. The partnership continued to grow through the 20th century, and the Mayo Clinic was developed. Today, it is one of the most innovative medical practices in the world. Two other people from Rochester – Thomas J. Watson, Jr. and Leland Fiegel – became famous for innovation for their role at IBM, which was founded by Watson’s father.
Throughout the 20th century, the city was plagued with floods. This led to the development of a flood control system for the city, which wasn’t completed until 1996.
Today, the economy of Rochester is centered on the Mayo Clinic. The city’s population has continued to grow as has the city itself with the addition of hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. Agriculture is also important to the economy, as well as manufacturing, particularly with IBM’s Rochester campus. Numerous publications have named Rochester as one of the best places in the U.S. to live, and it is also one of the most educated cities not just in the U.S., but in the world.