LI unemployment rises to 7.1% in November

Friends and family help Diane Joyce clean out Friends and family help Diane Joyce clean out her home on Ohio Avenue in Long Beach after superstorm Sandy. (Nov. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Unemployment in areas hard-hit by superstorm Sandy jumped up last month.

Two areas on the South Shore, some of the most devastated by the storm, posted the Island's largest percentage increases in unemployment in November compared with October, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

In Long Beach, the unemployment rate hit 10.1 percent in November, up from 7.7 percent in October. In Lindenhurst village, the rate grew to 9.8 percent, up from 8.3 percent.

The figures are not seasonally adjusted, but on average Lindenhurst and Long Beach's unemployment rate goes up 0.2 points between October and November, said Labor Department analyst Shital Patel.

Across the Island, the unemployment rate rose to 7.1 percent in November, up from 6.8 percent in the same period last year. The 0.3-point increase was mainly due to more people re-entering the workforce and actively looking for jobs again, Patel said. Only active job seekers are counted as unemployed.

There was "both an increase in the number of employed in the region . . . and also a larger increase in the number of unemployed," she said. With year-over-year comparisons, "the longer term outweighs the Sandy impact."

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Compared with year-ago figures, Long Island's unemployment rate has risen every month since April this year, mostly because of slow job growth. Last week, the state Labor Department reported that Long Island had 8,100 fewer jobs in November compared with a year ago, due to a combination of government layoffs and Sandy.

The need for jobs was evident at Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City Thursday afternoon, where the U.S. Postal Service had set up a booth to answer questions about the 150 jobs it is filling to replace retiring workers.

More than 350 people showed up at the booth to inquire about the jobs -- which included letter carrier and truck driver positions with starting pay of $21 per hour, a USPS spokeswoman said.

But Sandy may impact economic figures only in the short-term, said Irwin Kellner, the Port Washington-based chief economist for Marketwatch.com.

"I think over the next few months as insurance money comes in and we don't get weather that's worse than usual . . . you'll see a lot of reconstruction going on," Kellner said. Then, "you'll see a big bump in employment in Long Island, and drop in unemployment."

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