Brian Crandall runs the blog “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”

Ithaca, N.Y. — Here’s a look a the latest local jobs numbers, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics …

In June 2014, the Ithaca metro (also known as Tompkins County) was estimated to have 65,500 jobs, an increase of 300 over June 2013 (+0.5%).

If those total employment numbers seem a little low, it’s because they are — the summer months traditionally have low total employment because the colleges and district schools are on summer break, and the academic-year seasonal jobs don’t return until those throngs of students start filling the dorms again.

This is the same reason the unemployment rate ticks up during the summer — 4.5%, a decrease from 5.6% in June 2013, and well below the U.S. and NYS averages of 6.1% and 6.6% respectively (the local July unemployment rate isn’t available just yet).

That may look good on the surface, but the numbers do show a troubling stat — the local labor pool has shrunk by nearly 1,000 since last year, to 54,836. The labor pool number doesn’t match up with the total job number because people outside the Ithaca metro will commute into the region for work. These numbers suggest that job growth is here, but people are moving outside the region and commuting in. This decreasing labor pool trend has continued for the past few months; whether it’s a preliminary statistical quirk, or a real event, has yet to be determined.

Looking at the job sectors by employment, most categories stayed flat or saw decreases – “Leisure and Hospitality” saw a drop of 200 jobs compared to June 2013, to 4,000 (-4.8%), and “Professional and Business Services” down 100 jobs.

The only sectors that grew are “Manufacturing” and the vaguely-defined “Other Services”, which added 100 jobs each, and Education and Health Services.

Education and Health Services, the dominant force in the local economy, added 400 jobs over the past year, for a total of 34,100 (+1.2%). This is a double-edged sword. The good thing is, the sector is growing, and the local economy is benefiting. The bad thing is, this indicates that the local economy is increasingly dependent on just one segment — if something were to happen to the education and healthcare market, then Ithaca will be even more vulnerable to the impacts.

Compared to other cities, Ithaca is growing but still below the state and national averages. At 0.5%, the results are lower than the national employment growth rate (0.9%) and the New York State growth rate (1.5%, mostly in the downstate metros). June was the first month to see positive growth since January; here at the Voice, attention was given to the steep job losses reported for May. Only part of the July data has been released, which suggests a total employment number of 64,900, an increase of 500 jobs, or 0.8% from July 2013; most of the growth is once again concentrated in Education and Health Services (+900 jobs).

We’ll explore the July numbers more as they are published and updated. The data for 2014 is preliminary and subject to revision as we continue through the rest of the year.


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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.