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LI loses 13,000 jobs; worst August since 1999

Grace Spielman, left, of Bay Shore, speaks with

Grace Spielman, left, of Bay Shore, speaks with Wendy Stampf at a local jobs fair. (Sept. 13, 2011) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island had 13,000 fewer jobs in August than it had the year before, recording the lowest number for that month since 1999, the state Department of Labor said yesterday.

The Island’s job market was so weak that it had more losses in the year-over-year period than any other metro area the department tracks.

“It is a fairly well established trend that the downstate economy in recent years has outperformed the upstate economy,” said Michael Crowell, a labor department senior economist based in Hicksville. “But this month the trend seems to have reversed itself, and the big part of the reason is the Long Island economy.”

But another local economist noted that the numbers were skewed by the Verizon strike in August, which accounted for nearly 18 percent of the 4,500 jobs lost in the information sector.

“It’s not as bad as it would seem at first blush,” said Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association. “But clearly it was a negative report.”

The sum total of the weak job market, including other recent declines, as well as weak retail and sales-tax growth add up to an economy still in a recession, she said. The national recession officially ended in June 2009.

The Island now has 1.21 million jobs, compared with 1.22 million a year ago. The Labor Department will release the August unemployment rate on Tuesday.

The leisure and hospitality sector had the biggest decline, with a loss of 5,300 jobs, primarily because of a drop in recreational sales such as gambling and amusement park patronage.

The professional and business-services category, which includes legal and accounting services, added the most jobs, 1,800.

With a weakening job market, longtime unemployed workers are finding job searches more challenging.

Northport resident Debbie Gibbons has been looking for work since she lost her job in February 2010 as director of procurement at a local health-care distributor after 23 years.
Gibbons, 52, estimates she has sent out more than 100 resumes in the past year. She said prospective employers typically say, “that I am overqualified or don’t have their industry background. It’s becoming depressing. It is frustrating.”

East Meadow resident Allen Levy has been looking for full-time work since he lost his desktop-engineer job in 2007. Levy, who is in his 40s, has worked on various computer projects as a contract worker. But even that works against his quest for a full-time job, he said.

“It sort of hinders a lot of employers from even considering me because of the stereotype of contractors that we like to come and go as we please,” he said.

And other factors are working against him, he said.

“It’s a very competitive market right now, and I am being challenged because of my age.”
Nationally, applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by 11,000 to 428,000, the highest level since the end of June.

 

Here is a look at some of the most active sectors:

JOBS GAINED

Professional and business services: +1,800
Educational and health services: +900

JOBS LOST

Leisure and hospitality: -5,300
Information: -4,500
Government: -2,400.
Financial activities: -1,900
Manufacturing: -1,300
Natural resources, mining and construction: -600

Photo: Grace Spielman, left, of Bay Shore, speaks with Wendy Stampf, center, and Joanne Steiger, at a job fair Tuesday on Long Island.

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