Ithaca’s Economic Mystery (Again)

18 04 2014

4-13-2014 078

I don’t consider myself an optimist. Maybe that’s the result of growing up in upstate New York, or working in a field that suffered its share of setbacks due to the recession. I don’t like the term pessimist either, preferring to go with the more socially acceptable term “realist”.

But this IJ article citing the state Labor numbers doesn’t make one damned bit of sense. I’m not even talking about the fact that they threw Ithaca into two separate employment regions (Ithaca and Binghamton, and Ithaca and Syracuse). to quote a section of the article:

“In the Ithaca region, financial activities, trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality each added 100 jobs.

The education-and-health-services sector lost 1,300 jobs from March 2013 to March 2014. That sector’s employment was 38,300 this March.”

Doesn’t it seem just a little unusual that the area lost 1,000 jobs? Recalling the headcount numbers for Cornell that were shared last month, the difference in employee headcounts on East Hill over the period of November 2012-November 2013 is a loss of about 50. Ithaca College’s headcount reports 1,822 employees,  about 12 less than the previous year. So those are both from the fall, and the state counts health and education are grouped together, but if we’re talking about 1,000 jobs, and it’s not Cornell or IC that caused it, then who did? I don’t recall any news of a huge layoff in Tompkins County.

The state regional breakdown PDF says the number of jobs went from 70,900 to 69,900 in the region (IJ says 60,900 to 59,900…someone in their office needs to double-check their numbers, because the 2011 average jobs number was 66,194).  The state description of their methodology says they use a time-series regression model and a sampling of 18,000 establishments statewide to determine jobs data. I’m wondering if this is all a quirk in the sampling, given that Ithaca is a small market (and small sample size in turn).

Maybe Ithaca’s economy really is in the crapper. But honestly, it’s not the first time the state has given overly-negative assessments, and the county agencies have to do damage control. But do we really have to go through this every other year?

 

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4 responses

19 04 2014
Jason Henderson

.. And to even further complicate, the BLS labor force participation rate numbers for Jan 2013 to 2014 dove .9%, but the same BLS data shows an increase of 200 non-farm payroll employees in the same period. Population estimates from 2012 to 2013 show about 900 more residents, so if we assume the same growth rate (at this point, who knows), that’s only 2 workers per 9 new residents, but that dilution in the labor force participation rate would not even be close to substantiating the noted decrease according to the BLS

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t03.htm

https://www.census.gov/popest/data/metro/totals/2013/

19 04 2014
Ex-Ithacan

As you noted, something just doesn’t seem right. A thousand jobs lost should be more of a concern and response from the whole community. **shrug**

21 04 2014
Deb

Remember that there are other education related employment in the area, such as public schools that could account for the job loss in this sector.

21 04 2014
B. C.

Hi Deb,

You have a point, I know Trumansburg and Ithaca have been talking about cuts. But I don’t think they would be more than 20 to 30 of those 1,000 positions (school districts and colleges combined, we’re probably seeing something like 100 of the 1,000 jobs accounted for). The ICSD only employs about 800, and they’re by far the largest player in Tompkins County, which is the only county included in the Ithaca metro statistics. 1,000 jobs lost in education/health in one year still seems too large to be accurate.

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