Feds: Sandy cost NY residents about $4.5B in lost wages

Businesses affected by Sandy along West Beech Street

Businesses affected by Sandy along West Beech Street in Long Beach. (Feb. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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New York State residents lost about $4.5 billion in wages last year because of superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated this week.

Residents' combined total personal income was $1 trillion in 2012, the bureau said.

Figures for Long Island won't be available for months, officials said Thursday. Statewide, 2012 personal incomes averaged $52,095 per person.

The officials said estimates of Sandy's impact on earnings were based on census data for the number of private-sector workers affected by the storm and their average daily wage.

Incomes fell the most in durable-goods manufacturing, health care and social assistance, hotels and food services. The biggest gains were in finance and insurance, management of companies, and local and state governments.

While Sandy's impact on the wages of Long Islanders wasn't available, Pearl Kamer, chief economist at the Long Island Association business group, said the statewide numbers "are a proxy" for Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City, the areas most damaged by the storm.

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"It's a sizable amount, but I think timing is more critical," she said. "The income losses occurred at a time when job growth was relatively modest. So you have a problem on top of a problem."

Kamer also said the wage losses "didn't swamp the Long Island economy," whose size is estimated to be $122.5 billion. "But some communities were hurt disproportionately [by Sandy], such as Long Beach, Freeport, Babylon, Lindenhurst," she said.

Overall, the bureau said New York State residents earned 2.4 percent more last year than in 2011.

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