The Index of Economic Activity
in Tompkins County

  Department of Economics
  at Ithaca College



Front Page Historical Data Outlook Archives Methodology


May 2013

After hitting an all-time high in April, the County economy came back down to Earth in May. The Ithaca College Index of Economic Activity fell 2.46 percent to a level of 163.64 from a revised mark of 167.76 in April. The employment sector dropped, as did home sales, and building permits. Gains in retail sales and air traffic cushioned the fall. Help wanted advertising held steady. Compared to May 2012, overall economic activity was up 0.99 percent. .




Tompkins County lost 1,200 jobs in May to bring total employment to 67,200 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Some give-back was expected since April set an all-time high for employment in the County. There were 600 more jobs than May 2012.

Retail sales in Tompkins County improved 1.54 percent in May. Compared to May 2012 retail sales were up 1.76 percent. The retail sector has been sluggish and these meager gains are welcome.

The number of passengers boarding and deplaning at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport lifted 1.70 percent in May. Compared to May 2012, air traffic was down 12.49 percent.

Residential building permits issued in Tompkins County tumbled 68.51 percent in May. Building permits are an extremely volatile indicator. They are running ahead of their pace last year at this time.

Home sales dipped 20.70 percent in May when County realtors sold 85 homes on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to 107 in April. However, home prices were up sharply in May. The average sales price was $250,500 compared to $202,500 a year ago. The median home sold for $215,000 compared to $174,500 a year ago. These numbers suggest buyers were going aggressively for a limited number of homes on the market.

Help wanted advertising inched ahead 1.48 percent in May. Compared to May 2012, help wanted advertising was up 11.98 percent.




(from APR 2013)


(from MAY 2012)


         1.66 %

         0.88 %

Retail Sales

         1.54 %

         1.76 %

Air Passengers

         1.70 %

       12.49 %

Building Permits

       68.51 %

       33.30 %

Home Sales

       20.70 %

         5.10 %

Help Wanted Advertising

         1.48 %

       11.98 %

Index of Economic Activity

         2.46 %

         0.99 %


The Index of Economic Activity in Tompkins County read 100.00 in January 1985. In May 2013 the index read 163.64. This implies that the Tompkins County economy has grown 66.64 percent over those 28 years.

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

Maintained by Elia Kacapyr (
Last updated 06/21/2013