The Index of Economic Activity
in Tompkins County

  Department of Economics
  at Ithaca College



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January 2013

The Ithaca College Index of Economic Activity in Tompkins County advanced 0.69 percent in January to a level of 164.40 from a revised mark of 163.28 in December. Resurgent retail sales and robust home sales led the charge. Declines in employment and air traffic held the index back.




Tompkins County lost 1,200 in January, bringing total employment to 66,800 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Nevertheless, there were 500 more jobs than in January 2012. A major data revision by the New York State Department of Labor shows that the employment picture in Tompkins County has been much, much better than we originally thought. The revisions go back two years. In 2012, the original data indicate Tompkins County lost 500 jobs. The revised data show we added 900 jobs! In 2010 we didnít lose 800 jobs Ė we added another 900!

Retail sales started 2013 by bolting 6.30 percent over Decemberís level. Compared to January 2012, the volume of retail sales were 5.10 percent higher.

The number of passengers boarding and deplaning at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport descended 3.81 percent in January. Compared to January 2012, air traffic was down 8.32 percent.

Residential building permits issued in Tompkins County fell 27.26 percent in January. Building permits are an extremely volatile indicator. They finished 2012 on a very strong note.

Home sales bucked their trend and popped 56.14 percent in January when County realtors sold 90 homes on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to 58 in December. The average sale price was $189,600 compared to $171,500 a year earlier. The median home sold for $172,500 compared to $157,500 a year earlier. Compared to January 2012, home sales were up 5.56 percent.

Help wanted advertising improved 5.86 percent in January. Compared to January 2012, help wanted advertising was up 8.12 percent.




(from DEC 2012)


(from JAN 2012)


         1.72 %

         0.78 %

Retail Sales

         6.30 %

         5.10 %

Air Passengers

         3.81 %

         8.32 %

Building Permits

       27.26 %

       49.99 %

Home Sales

        56.14 %

         5.56 %

Help Wanted Advertising

         5.86 %

         8.12 %

Index of Economic Activity

         0.69 %

         1.95 %


Before the data revision, we thought the Tompkins County economy grew by 0.5 percent in 2012. After the revision the 2012 growth rate is 2.0 percent. The 2011 growth rate went from 0.1 percent to 1.9 percent. These annual data revisions can be significant, but this must be some kind of record.

  The Index of Economic Activity in Tompkins County is a public service of Ithaca College.

Maintained by Elia Kacapyr (
Last updated 03/08/2013