Ithaca’s job gains best in state; Binghamton improves, Elmira lags
Binghamton employment trends are on the upswing and the Ithaca job engine continues at a ferocious pace, but Elmira’s hiring numbers have failed to keep pace with state and national averages.
Elmira’s 2.8 percent private-sector employment decline was worst in the state, and placed it among only three other metro areas in the state to record job losses.
The state Department of Labor reported the Elmira region reported a 900 private-sector job loss. Though less than the 4,900 loss in Buffalo-Niagara Falls and 2,800 fewer in Rochester, the Elmira percentage decline was almost triple that recorded in Erie and Niagara counties.
The 31,000 total private-sector jobs reported in Elmira in December was the lowest for the month since the labor department adjusted its statistical survey in 1990. While much of the balance of the nation has emerged from the 2008 recession, Elmira still appears mired in a decline, with manufacturing accounting for 1,300 of the 2,000 jobs lost in the past 10 years.
“Elmira has hit a rough patch over the past year or so,” said Christian Harris, Binghamton-based labor market analyst for the state.
Yet Binghamton, which had been a lagging since the recession, reported its second straight job December increase, ending a five-year string of losses or flat performance for the month.
Despite a continued string of losses in the manufacturing sector, the service sector picked up 700 jobs over the year. Total private-sector jobs in the Binghamton region — Broome and Tioga counties — was up 600 in December, while manufacturing jobs continued to contract, down at a negative 2.7 percent.
Harris said Binghamton is finally seeing a period of stability and “no strong erosion.”
Despite the recent announcements of layoffs at Sanmina, the hiring of more than 200 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods distribution center in Conklin should offset the impending losses.
Meanwhile. Ithaca’s 3.2 percent year-over-year growth in private-sector jobs makes it the state standout, as it edged Dutchess and Putnam counties as the state’s upstate leader in December job growth.
Tompkins County recorded an 1,800 job gain in year-over-year employment. As has been the trend over the past, the Ithaca increase was paced by a 1,500 job gain in the education and health services sector.
Since 2008, Tompkins County has recorded an 8,000 increase in jobs, with 6,500 of those in education and health services.
“The direction is correct,” Harris said of the Ithaca results, but he questions whether the numbers are actually slightly inflated by quirks in the labor department’s statistical survey.
Statewide, private-sector job growth of 1.4 percent trailed the national average of 1.7 percent in December.
“New York state’s unemployment rate fell over the month, from 4.7 percent to 4.6 percent,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics. “This was due, in part, to a decrease in the number of unemployed. Additionally, the state’s economy has added 111,700 private-sector jobs over the past year.”