Job gains 'a drop in the bucket' compared with jobless

Flora Guan, left, and Jessica Yang, right, recent

Flora Guan, left, and Jessica Yang, right, recent graduates of San Francisco State University, fill out forms to take part in surveys with Fieldwork San Francisco at a National Career Fair in San Francisco. (June 28, 2010) (Credit: AP )

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The private sector of the U.S. economy added 83,000 jobs last month, but that anemic amount was more than wiped out by the expected end of temporary government jobs with the 2010 census.

Overall, the nation lost 125,000 jobs in June, proving yet again how volatile a recovering job market can be. Federal data released Friday showed the drop was primarily due to the layoff of 225,000 census 2010 workers. In May, the economy gained 433,000 jobs largely because the federal government hired 411,000 census workers.

The private-sector gain of 83,000, considered the stronger measure of the job market's health, compared with 33,000 in May. The latest increase is "a drop in the bucket," said Ken Goldstein, an economist The Conference Board, a Manhattan business-research group, considering that the country has 14.6 million unemployed people.

He expects the job market to remain sluggish for some time because of weak consumer spending, which has made many businesses wary of hiring.

"That's a recipe for an economy that is the equivalent of being stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway," he said. "We could be here next spring."

The nation's jobless rate dipped to 9.5 percent in June, from 9.7 percent the month before, reflecting that more workers gave up looking for a job. Those "discouraged workers" aren't included in jobless data.

The 9.5 percent federal rate remains considerably higher than Long Island's current 6.7 percent rate. But the Island's job growth has also whipsawed. The most recent local figures available show that in May, the Island had 500 more jobs than the year before, after adding 5,000 in the 12 months ended in April, according to the State Labor Department.

Some local employers are cautious about hiring, but others are taking advantage of larger pools of candidates to beef up their staff.

Jack Bloom, the president of printing company Sir Speedy of Westbury, has added a sales representative in the past month, but he is holding off, for now, on hiring a customer-service person. "I need to see a steady increase in the orders that are coming in," said Bloom, who has 10 employees.

Mithril Technology, an information-technology company in Westbury, has hired three employees in the past six months and would like to hire two to three more, said Jason Aptekar, the founder and chief executive.

"I'm growing because of the changes that are taking place in the marketplace," Aptekar said. "And I also have the opportunity to hire better people at lower salaries because the competition is huge." His company employs 10 people.

Jack Rayher, the marketing director of Four Seasons Sunrooms & Windows in Holbrook, has been trying to hire five to six part-time demonstrators for the company's replacement windows, a business it recently entered. But the company, which has 300 employees on Long Island, isn't getting enough candidates. "You would think that the recession was over," Rayher said.

Tony Savarese, a manager at All Star Limousine in Lindenhurst, is looking for 25 to 30 chauffeurs to add to the 100 already on staff, because demand from businesses is up. "You hear that people are looking for jobs," he said. "I don't know where they are looking. We are hiring."

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