Next Steps for Tompkins County’s Workforce After the Pandemic


Workers in a Singaporean shipyard disembark a gas vessel during a planned fire drill. (Unsplash)

TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY -- The pandemic is slowing down, and there are a lot of different strategies to help businesses and the overall economy recover in Tompkins County.

Natalie Branosky is the Director of Tompkins County’s Workforce Development Board. On June 24th, she gave a presentation to the Tompkins County Legislature Housing and Economic Development Committee, offering an outlook on what the work force in the county will look like over the summer and how it may change.

Branosky touted Tompkins County’s 75% vaccination rate among those 18 or older as one of the big boons to the local economy. It’s the highest county vaccination rate in the state. She also highlighted the unemployment rate. At just 3.6%, Tompkins County has the 2nd lowest unemployment rate of counties in New York.

Unemployment claims are still up in Tompkins County. There are about 100-150 now compared to around 30-40 pre-pandemic.

To direct people into the job market and strengthen it, the Workforce Development Board has launched a partnership with Ithaca Area Economic Development and TC3 to develop a new pathway for entry-level manufacturing jobs. 

Branosky said that people in the program would learn in structured curriculum and that, “you are getting paid to work in that occupation at the same time.”


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Natalie Branosky, Tompkins County Workforce Development Board Director, gives a virtual presentation on the county's work-force outlook.


Another boost was the summer youth employment program which received a $85,000 gift from the Community Foundation, the Park Foundation, and United Way.

Branosky noted there was a big health care worker shortage for Tompkins County to address. The Workforce Development Board  is working closely with Cayuga Medical Center, to organize a healthcare career expo. This will take place at Ithaca College during the week of Thanksgiving.

Branosky also  touched on the application shortages that businesses are experiencing. She said that the Development Board gave The Ithaca Marriott Downtown some unconventional advice.

“We said turn no one away. Everyone is employable. Get out that stack of resumes and have a second look.” Apparently, this helped to address the Marriott’s employment gap. The Marriott’s recent certification as a Living Wage Employer has also been credited by the hotel for it’s boom in applicants.

Enhanced unemployment benefits are theorized to be one of the reasons why traditionally low-wage industries are struggling to fill positions.

Those benefits will be in place until Labor Day. The Workforce Development Board will be monitoring for changes in the workforce around that time.