Exterior of the Federal Reserve Bank building, Manhattan.

Exterior of the Federal Reserve Bank building, Manhattan. Credit: Charles Eckert

The job recovery on Long Island from last year’s coronavirus-induced recession is among the slowest in the country, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The economy of Nassau and Suffolk counties has rebounded but employment was still down 5.6% in October compared with January 2020, before the virus struck. That’s the 14th highest job shortfall among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, three bank economists said on Friday.

New York City’s employment shortfall is bigger: 10.2% in October.

The uncertain duration of the COVID-19 pandemic will determine how long it takes for the number of jobs in Nassau and Suffolk to fully rebound, said Jason Bram, a bank economist, responding to a Newsday question.

"Each of these [virus] waves are changing people’s behavior and making people more reluctant to go out," he said. "It’s very, very hard to say how long it will take Long Island to recover."

Bram also said local employers continue to have difficulty in hiring and people dropped out of the labor force to care for children.

"The shortage of workers is holding back growth," he said.

The data also shows the job recovery in much of upstate has lagged, with Buffalo ranked No. 2 among large metro areas with a shortfall of 8.7%.

Jaison R. Abel, an economist and assistant vice president in the New York Fed's research and statistics department, said, "Long Island was actually hit harder than New York City early in the pandemic" in terms of job losses. "But [the Island] has had a much stronger recovery with a job shortfall of 5.6%, roughly half of New York City’s job shortfall — [but] still much worse than the U.S. overall," he said during a virtual news conference.

On the Island, the economic sectors with the most jobs still to recover are trade, transportation and utilities, down 1.4% from the pre-pandemic level; education and health care, 0.9%, and leisure and hospitality, 0.8%, based on October employment data.

However, the employment shortfall may have improved in recent weeks.

The state Labor Department reported on Wednesday that Long Island added 10,600 jobs last month compared with October, a record high for the month since the state began tracking the figures in 1990.

Separately, the New York Fed economists predicted an easing of supply chain disruptions once holiday gift-giving is completed.

"With the holiday season winding down, that should ease up some of the disruptions," Bram said.

Still, in bank surveys conducted this month, 46% of factory executives in New York State and 25% of retail and service firm officials in the metro area said they expect "the availability of supplies to worsen over the next month."


Employment on Long Island was down 5.6% in October compared with the pre-pandemic level in January 2020. The losses:

Construction/Mining: -0.5%

Manufacturing: -0.2%

Trade/Transportation/Utilities: -1.4%

Information: -0.1%

Finance: -0.3%

Professional/Business Services: -0.3%

Education/Health care: -0.9%

Lesiure/Hospitality: -0.8%

Other services: -0.6%

Government: -0.4%

SOURCE: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

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