The Index of Economic Activity
in Tompkins County

  Department of Economics
  at Ithaca College



Front Page Historical Data Outlook Archives Methodology


March 2013

The Ithaca College Index of Economic Activity in Tompkins County hit an all-time high in February, but could not sustain the momentum in March. The index fell 1.29 percent to a level of 163.43 from a revised mark of 165.56 in February. Employment and help wanted advertising were up, but everything else was down. Air traffic and home sales were particularly soft. Compared to March 2012, economic activity was 0.04 percent higher.




Tompkins County added 100 jobs in March, bringing total employment to 68,300 on a seasonally adjusted basis. There were 1,100 more jobs than in March 2012. The employment sector has been single-handedly keeping economic activity afloat with no help from other areas.

Retail sales were down for the second month in a row, falling another 2.38 percent in March. Compared to March 2012, the volume of retail sales was down 1.14 percent.

The number of passengers boarding and deplaning at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport descended 15.09 percent in March. Compared to March 2012, air traffic was down 16.59 percent.

Residential building permits issued in Tompkins County fell 36.02 percent in February. Building permits are an extremely volatile indicator. They finished 2012 on a very strong note and are having a hard time matching that performance as 2013 begins.

Home sales declined 19.89 percent in March when County realtors sold 65 homes on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to 81 in February. The inventory of homes for sale appears thin, yet there is no upward pressure on prices. The average sale price was $182,000 compared to $186,100 a year earlier. The median home sold for $164,000 compared to $155,000 a year earlier. Compared to March 2012, home sales were down 25.00 percent.

Help wanted advertising improved 6.36 percent in March, indicating a healthy demand for employees. Compared to March 2012, help wanted advertising was up 6.84 percent.




(from FEB 2013)


(from MAR 2012)


         0.02 %

         1.61 %

Retail Sales

         2.38 %

         1.14 %

Air Passengers

       15.09 %

       16.59 %

Building Permits

       36.02 %

         0.22 %

Home Sales

       19.89 %

       25.00 %

Help Wanted Advertising

         6.36 %

         6.84 %

Index of Economic Activity

         1.29 %

         0.04 %


The Tompkins County economy started 2013 with two consecutive months of growth. That trend met a sad demise in March with a significant decline in activity. Hopefully, March is the aberration and the upward trend will continue in April.

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

Maintained by Elia Kacapyr (
Last updated 04/23/2013