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Sandy Impacts Oyster Bay Jobs

Unemployment rate Nassau's worst November in two decades, but Sandy recovery could stimulate economy.

Hurricane Sandy didn’t just wreck the region’s infrastructure, it delivered a blow to the jobs market, according to the Long Island Association’s chief economist. 

While the unemployment rate in the Town of Oyster Bay dropped in November, the latest month available, a significant number of jobs were shed Islandwide over the previous 12 months. 

“If you look at November 2011 to November 2012, it portrays an even more somber picture of the job market on Long Island,” LIA Chief Economist Pearl M. Kamer said. “These numbers incorporate both the effects of the recent storms and structural weaknesses within key sectors of our economy.” 

Long Island lost 8,100 jobs year-over-year, including 2,700 private sector jobs, according to the state Department of Labor. Nassau and Suffolk counties also had 4,900 fewer government workers than a year earlier. 

The Nassau unemployment rate jumped to 7 percent in November – highest for that month in two decades – compared with 6.4 percent a year earlier.

Oyster Bay’s unemployment rate fared better. From a high of 7.3 percent in July, Oyster Bay’s unemployment rate moved significantly from October to November, dropping three tenths of a point from 6.7 to 6.4. Of Oyster Bay’s estimated labor force of 151,400, 9,600 were unemployed. 

But Kamer dismissed any positive signs in the region’s unemployment rate. “You have to consider why it dropped,” she said. “A lot of that reflects retiring Baby Boomers. Or they dropped out of the labor force because they felt they couldn’t get a job.” 

So-called “discouraged workers” lower the unemployment rate through attrition. Oyster Bay’s unemployment rate was still historically high: The third-worst November in the last 20 years. 

“The ongoing struggle of the national economy to recover is clearly affecting the unemployment numbers for the local and regional area," Town of Oyster Bay spokesman Brian Devine said. "In these difficult times, the Town reaffirms its commitment to helping our residents find employment through the Town’s Workforce Partnership, a consortium of local governments funded by the Federal Workforce Investment Act that provides valuable resources to both employers and job seekers, with career center locations in Hicksville and Massapequa.” 

Economic resources are pouring in post-Sandy and that should help stabilize the region. The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, for exapmle, administers the Business Recovery Center, set up to help with disaster loan applications, assistance finding state and federal resources for eligible businesses. 

“Hardest hit were many of Long Island’s small businesses, which were flooded, lost power, or both,” Kamer said. Getting those local merchants back on their feet is key to a prosperous 2013.

She sees the recovery effort, from FEMA, insurance claims and other stimulus as a major driver going forward. 

“All that FEMA money and government money and private money that’s going to come in for rebuilding and hardening our infrastructure is going to create jobs for construction workers,” Kamer added. “That’s going to be injected into the economy.”

     November Unemployment

Year Oyster Bay Nassau Suffolk State Nation 1992 6.3 6.6 7.7 8.3 7.4 1993 4.9 5.2 6.7 7.4 6.6 1994 4.1 4.3 5.3 5.9 5.6 1995 3.7 3.9 4.8 6.0 5.6 1996 2.9 3.1 3.8 6.0 5.4 1997 2.9 3.1 3.8 5.7 4.6 1998 2.4 2.5 3.1 5.2 4.4 1999 2.6 2.8 3.2 4.7 4.1 2000 2.9 3.1 3.2 4.2 3.9 2001 4.2 4.4 4.4 5.7 5.5 2002 4.2 4.4 4.5 6.2 5.9 2003 4.2 4.6 4.7 6.2 5.8 2004 3.9 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.4 2005 3.8 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.0 2006 3.3 3.5 3.7 4.2 4.5 2007 3.6 3.8 3.9 4.4 4.7 2008 4.9 5.2 5.4 6.0 6.8 2009 6.5 6.9 7.3 8.5 9.9 2010 6.8 7.0 7.5 8.3 9.8 2011 6.1 6.4 7.0 7.9 8.6 2012 6.4 7.0 7.2 7.9 7.8

Note: Sources U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and NYS Department of Labor. Unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force.

Edward Robinson contributed to this report. 


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