district profile
Ithaca Metro Area

Tompkins County

Tompkins County, which comprises the Ithaca metropolitan area, has a population of just under 102,000, based on the 2010 Census—up more than 5 percent from 2000, making it one of the faster-growing counties in New York State over the decade. The city of Ithaca is home to 30,000 residents, a majority of whom are college students, reflecting the local dominance of two major higher education institutions: Cornell University and Ithaca College. Due to the significant presence of college students in the area, the median age of the city of Ithaca’s population is just 22, while the median age for the metro area overall is 28, which is still well below the nationwide average of 36.

Partly due to the prevalence of higher education institutions as employers, roughly half of Ithaca-area adults hold college degrees—nearly double the nationwide average. Median household income, though, is below par: $45,000, compared with $50,000 for the nation as a whole—also evidently reflecting the large presence of college students.

Not surprisingly, metropolitan Ithaca’s key industry is education and health services, which accounts for slightly over half of all private-sector jobs, compared with just 17 percent nationwide. The prevalence of this sector tends to make the local economy less vulnerable to economic downturns. During the past recession, the Ithaca metropolitan area registered relatively mild job losses of less than 2 percent, a significantly less pronounced loss than the state or the nation. However, the region experienced steep declines in employment from the summer of 2011 through the spring of 2012, mostly from job losses in the education and health sector. Home prices nearly doubled during the 2000-2006 housing boom, and subsequently declined at a far more modest pace than for the nation as a whole.1

Recent Trends

After a steep decline in jobs in the area’s key educational and health services sector in 2011, employment in this sector has now recovered nearly all the jobs it lost. Total employment in the first half of 2012 expanded at a solid pace, outperforming the state and the nation. As of the summer of 2012, employment in the area has surpassed its previous peak. Despite these gains, the Ithaca metropolitan area’s unemployment rate is above 6 percent, an elevated level for the region. Home prices during the first half of 2012 have risen by 10 percent, far outpacing growth in the state and the nation.

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1Trends in home prices referred to here are all based on repeat-sales indexes from CoreLogic.

  Ithaca MSA*: selected characteristics
    Population in 2010 % of 2010 Population that is1  
  Total Population1 % Change from 20001 per Sq. Mile2 Black Hispanic Asian  
  Ithaca Metro Area 101,564   5.2   213   4.0   4.2   8.6  
    Tompkins 101,564   5.2   213   4.0   4.2   8.6  
  New York State 19,378,102   2.1   410   15.9   17.6   7.3  
  USA 308,745,538   9.7   87   12.6   16.3   4.8  

  Ithaca MSA: selected characteristics
    Median % of Homes % of Adults with5  
  Household Income3 Home Value4 Owner Occupied4 College Degrees HS Degrees  
  Ithaca Metro Area $45,010   $166,200   52.8   52.7   93.3  
    Tompkins $45,010   $166,200   52.8   52.7   93.3  
  New York State $54,659   $310,000   55.4   31.8   84.2  
  USA $50,221   $191,900   66.4   27.5   84.6  
* Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are metro areas defined by the Office of Management and Budget for use by federal statistical agencies.
1 Source: US Bureau of the Census, decennial Census of Population.
2 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census of Population; land area data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s geographic database (TIGER® database) for Census 2000.
3 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2009 (1-year estimates)
4

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2007-09 (3-year estimates)

5

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 2006-08 (3-year estimates)

October 2012