Broome County, which includes the city of Binghamton, has a population of just over 200,000, based on the 2010 Census. The Binghamton metro area also includes Tioga County, with a much sparser population of 51,000. The population in these two counties was little changed between 2000 and 2010. Metropolitan Binghamton lags the state and the nation in income and educational attainment. Based on 2009 data, median household income is just under $46,000, versus $50,000 for the US. Despite the dominant presence of Binghamton University (SUNY), just under 25 percent of Binghamton-area adults hold college degrees—slightly below the nationwide rate of 27.5 percent. The region has a sizable presence of computer and electronics and defense-related manufacturing, though less so than in the past. During the latest recession, the Binghamton metro area registered a job loss of roughly 7 percent—steeper than that seen for New York State as a whole but roughly on par with the nation. Home prices did not appreciate as rapidly as in the nation as a whole during the 2000-2006 housing boom, but fell far less than the nation when home prices declined thereafter.1
The Binghamton metro area has continued to sustain job losses years into the current economic recovery. Thus far in 2014, employment has sunk to levels not seen since the 1970s. Government employment has continued to decline thus far in 2014 and has fallen to its lowest level since 2000. While private-sector employment is at or near a multi-decade low, it has at least stabilized over the past year. Much of the ongoing weakness has been in manufacturing—particularly in the area’s key computer & electronics industry. There have also been recent job losses in the retail trade and financial activities sectors. On the other hand, there have been some pockets of strength: as of mid-2014, employment has picked up in construction, leisure & hospitality and wholesale trade. In 2014—for the first time since 2008—metropolitan Binghamton’s unemployment rate has dropped below 7 percent; however, this is entirely due to a declining population and labor force, not rising employment. Finally, despite the bleak employment trends, Binghamton’s housing markets have been improving since 2012, and prices have continued to appreciate in early 2014, approaching the pre-bust peak levels seen back in 2007.