Economist: Binghamton economy on the upswing

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In the estimation of an upstate economist, Binghamton’s business environment is on the upswing on several fronts, with the exception of one glaring weakness: population growth.

“We have to make the boat fuller,” said Gary Keith, M&T regional economist.

The flight of mid-career professionals and end-of-career baby boomers from the area places a collar around an otherwise optimistic economic outlook Keith delivered Tuesday morning to 230 people gathered at the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce economic forecast breakfast at the Holiday Inn downtown.

While the overall U.S. population grew by 7.3% from 2007 through 2019, the Binghamton metro area lost 16,700 people, a 13.5% decline, based on Census Bureau Bureau estimates.

Binghamton’s 35-to-64-year-old age group declined by nearly 10% over the past 10 years. On the other end of the spectrum, the 18-to-34-year-old group increased by nearly 3%.

While he acknowledged growth exhibited by the regional economy still trails national averages, progress made in the last three years contrasts sharply with several years of decline following the 2008 recession.

Real gross domestic product growth in Binghamton grew at a 9.4% clip from 2009 through 2019, compared with 24.9% for all the nation’s metro areas. But breaking that down further, Keith said he found positives in the fact that real GDP growth on a per capita basis grew at 15% over the same period, slightly above the national average.

“GDP numbers really paint a different picture than we’ve seen in the past,” Keith said. “By our own standards, we’re progressing.”

Driving growth are employment increases in the health and education fields. Combine that growth with a 35% increase in the transportation category, which includes distribution centers, and Binghamton has the base for fundamental improvements in economic conditions.

“We can compete. We have the ability to be as productive as the rest of the country,” Keith said. “We have a people issue that we have to confront.”

The improvement has spilled over into real estate sales, said David Lounsberry, executive officer of the Greater Binghamton Realtors Association.

Home inventory dropped to less than six months supply, he said, while median housing price has advanced to $119,000, up almost 16% over the past two years. Nationwide, the median home price was $275,000, up 10% over the past two years. according to the National Association of Realtors.

Now, Lounsberry said, it is common for several offers to be made on properties as opposed to a single one just a few years ago.

Three-quarters of the homes sold in the region in 2019 were priced below $200,000.

“We wish we had some more higher-end homes for some of the larger business in our area,” Lounsberry said.

Also, the following awards were handed out during the breakfast meeting:

  • Building Building BC Restorative Award: The Ansco Camera Factory, Matthew Paul, president, Paulus Development.
  • BC Innovative Award: TeleHealth 365 Inc., Amit Sharma, VP of Technology Collaboration, TeleHealth 365.
  • Building BC Transformative Award: 50 Front St. Luxury Apartments, Marc Newman, Newman Development Group.
  • Building BC Individual Award: Jordan Patch, owner, Animal Adventure Park.

Published by Press Connects

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