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LI should persist in pursuing tech jobs: Fed economist

Jason Bram, an economist with the Federal Reserve

Jason Bram, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, speaks to the Long Island Association's Financial Services and Tax Policy Committee in Melville on Friday, June 23, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Island should persist in efforts to increase the number of technology jobs despite the sector’s far more rapid growth in Manhattan, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York told local business executives.

Jason Bram, a research officer at the bank, said tech companies and their employees are attracted to urban centers because shops, gyms and apartments are near workplaces. Such amenities can also be found in some Long Island communities, such as Farmingdale, Great Neck, Hicksville, Mineola and Long Beach.

Tech employment on the Island, Bram said, has been relatively flat since 2006, in sharp contrast to meteoric gains in Manhattan. That growth has been concentrated in computer systems design, internet publishing and search portals, and online retailing, he said.

“Most of the growth in tech jobs has been in the center [of] cities . . . But it’s not true that nobody wants to live in the suburbs,” Bram told a Friday meeting of the financial services and tax policy committee of the Long Island Association business group in Melville.

“Places that have good access to the railroad, places that are more dense, where you can walk to the store and so forth” are attractive to tech businesses, he said. “It’s areas like these that will tend to grow rapidly, and we are seeing it.”

Bram writes the New York Fed’s chapter in the Beige Book, a periodic economic report that helps inform the Federal Reserve in setting short-term interest rates.

He said Long Island employment grew the fastest between 2006 and last year in industries with a higher share of local employment than they have nationwide, including ambulatory health care, construction, hospitals, social services, and personal and laundry services.

The Island shed jobs in the last 10 years in only one industry where the employment share is larger than in the nation: computer and electronics manufacturing.

Bram said, “Long Island is benefiting both from the fact that it has seen a rebound in employment on the Island and because a lot of Long Islanders and a lot of Long Island businesses have very close ties to New York City.”

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