Good jobs on LI still hard to come by, statistics show

Ron Stramiello, of Bohemia, lost his manufacturing supervisory

Ron Stramiello, of Bohemia, lost his manufacturing supervisory job in February after 16 years and has had no luck in finding another full-time job. (May 22, 2012) (Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz)

Long Island's unemployment rate jumped to 7.1 percent in April from 6.6 percent a year ago, the state Labor Department said Tuesday.

The Island's jobless rate remains stuck at recession-like levels and hasn't been below 6 percent since 2008.

Nassau's jobless rate was 6.7 percent in April, compared with Suffolk's 7.5 percent. That compares with 8.1 percent for New York State and 7.7 percent for the nation.

The report comes a week after the state released employment data showing that the Island had only 4,500 more jobs in April than a year earlier, the weakest employment growth in two years.

The higher jobless rate could reflect that more discouraged workers have resumed their job search and thus are now included in the unemployment statistics, said Elena Volovelsky, a labor market analyst in the department's Manhattan office.

The unemployment rate only counts unemployed people looking for jobs.

But the latest data showed a weakening job market last month. The number of jobless workers rose, and the number of people with jobs declined.

The Island had 103,800 unemployed workers in April, compared with 95,300 a year earlier. The number of employed residents dropped to 1.351 million from 1.354 million. The department uses year-to-year comparisons because local data aren't seasonally adjusted to account for monthly swings.

One Long Island economist said the unemployment situation is far worse than data suggest.

Martin Cantor, director of the Long Island Center for Socio-Economic Policy, a think tank, said, "With the aging of LI's workforce and a good amount choosing to retire and drop out of the workforce . . . and others who drop out because of disabilities, the unemployment rate can be understated because these folks stop looking for work."

Bohemia resident Ron Stramiello, 39, is finding out how challenging the job market can be. In February he lost his job as a supervisor at Miteq Inc., a Hauppauge company that makes telecommunications equipment, where he worked for 16 years.

He wants to return to manufacturing -- unfortunately one of the Island's slowest growing industries.

"I like to see something come from raw material to a finished product," he said.

Despite applying to about 30 companies, he's had no luck, and is dismayed by stories of people who have been out of work for two years or longer.

"That kind of scares me," he said.

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