LI economist Pearl Kamer dies; she chronicled LI's business pulse

Pearl Kamer is shown working at her office

Pearl Kamer is shown working at her office in Great Neck. (Feb. 11, 1984) (Credit: Newsday / Thomas R. Koeniges)

Pearl Kamer, who for decades opened the public's eyes to Long Island's changing economy and its impact on those who live here, died Friday night, her family said Saturday. She was 74.

Kamer died at home in the Town of Oyster Bay after a 1½-year fight with breast cancer, her second battle with the disease, her husband Ron Bloomfield said.

Kamer was one of a very few trained economists with a focus on Long Island. Her economic reports at various jobs chronicled the transformation of Long Island from a New York City bedroom community in the 1960s to a region benefiting from defense-industry jobs in the '80s to struggles with slow employment growth and the rise of low-paying jobs after the last recession.

"She was a remarkable woman," said Kevin Law, who worked for years with Kamer at the Long Island Association.

"She was really one of the trailblazers in the world of economics," said Law, president of the business organization, Long Island's largest. "She was a great resource and a dear friend and she will be missed."

Among her groundbreaking works, Law said, were reports on the health care industry and its large role on Long Island; how Long Island should grow its green energy economy; and the importance of nonprofit organizations on the Island.

He said she also produced monthly economic reports that businessmen and women looked forward to at the beginning of each month and authored the LIA's annual "fact book" about the economy here, which now comes out every two years.

In addition, she was a driving force in the creation of the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park at Farmingdale State College. She was on the board of directors for the park, which is an incubator for small medical-oriented businesses.

Kamer was born Feb. 13, 1939, in Manhattan and grew up in Kew Gardens Hills in Queens. She graduated from Forest Hills High School in the late 1950s and received an education degree from Queens College in 1960.

Although the study of economics was unusual for women to pursue at the time, her first job out of college was at The Conference Board, the Manhattan-based business-research group. Kamer worked there for two years, helping a female senior economist prepare publications on antitrust economics.

Kamer earned a master's in business administration from New York University in 1964, the year after she left The Conference Board. In 1966, she was hired by Lee Koppelman, the region's master planner, to work for the Long Island Regional Planning Board, where she directed economic, fiscal and demographic studies. She earned a doctorate in economics and public finance from NYU in 1976. She retired from the regional planning board in 1995.

Her retirement, though, was short-lived. The day after, she was approached by former Long Island Association president Matthew Crosson, who asked her to join his organization. What was supposed to be a short stay lasted 18 years -- she retired in April from the position of chief economist.

Kamer also taught at Adelphi, Hofstra and Stony Brook universities, and wrote two books on economics. She enjoyed traveling the world with her husband, whom she married in August 1988.

Kamer is survived by her brother, Allan Kamer of Queens; her three stepchildren, Kerri Weltz of Merrick, Marc Bloomfield of Atlanta and Lisa Bloomfield of Manhattan; and four step-grandchildren.

A service will be held at noon Wednesday at Gutterman's Funeral Home in Woodbury. Burial follows at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

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