This post was written by Brian Crandall, who runs the blog “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”


Ithaca, N.Y. — The weather may have been cooler and cloudier than usual this summer, but the jobs numbers are bringing a silver lining to those grey skies.

Revised July numbers suggest that Ithaca added 1,100 jobs since July 2013, bringing the total to 65,500 (+1.7%).

The summer is the traditional low period in the employment numbers due to the schools and colleges not being in session, with July and August typically giving the lowest values for the year.

But comparing the 12-month change eliminates seasonal swings, and compared to July 2013’s unemployment rate of 5.6%, the Ithaca area seems to be doing well. (One caveat: We are looking here at a decreased labor pool, which could be the results of workers retiring, or that people are moving outside the region and commuting in for work.)


Eggs in one basket?

Taking a quick look at employment by job sector, there are no surprises.

“Trade, Transportation and Utilities” and “Professional and Business Services” each have an estimated loss of 100 jobs since summer 2013, and “Leisure and Hospitality” lost 300 jobs.

The gains were reported in the ambiguous “Other Services” category with a gain of 100 jobs, and the regional stalwart, “Education and Health Services”, which increased an impressive 4.6% over the year, or 1,500 positions.

It’s not just the universities like Cornell that bring growth to this job sector; hospitals and health facilities are growing as well. The Ithaca Journal recently noted that Cayuga Medical’s employment has increased by over 500 people in the past decade.

So on the one hand, the economy is growing. On the other, it’s increasingly focused solely on “meds and eds.” The old proverb of having all of your eggs in one basket comes to mind.

Comparison with neighbors

Checking in on Ithaca’s upstate neighbors, the July figures suggest that at 1.7% growth, Ithaca beats the state average of +1.3%, and had the biggest year-over-year gain in jobs outside of the New York City area.

The numbers also beat the national growth rate of 1.5%.

Meanwhile, neighboring Syracuse has been estimated to have lost 3,700 jobs for a 0.6% decrease, and the biggest drop in the state.

Elmira also reported job losses (-0.5%), while Binghamton and Rochester reported modest gains (0.4% and 1.1% respectively).

Preliminary August numbers have just been released, and so far we’re seeing more modest gains, an increase of 700 jobs when compared to August 2013, or 1.1%. As always, 2014 data is preliminary and subject to revisions as the year goes on.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.