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Long Island loses 7,800 jobs in July

Participants in a job fair this week in

Participants in a job fair this week in Melville. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island's employment losses picked up speed in July, with 7,800 fewer jobs compared with the same month last year. The decline was the biggest year-over-year drop since March 2010.

The 0.6 percent drop, reported by the state's Department of Labor, was the third month in a row to see year-over-year losses.


In a surprising development, the education and health services sector lost 1,300 jobs since July 2010 -- the first-recorded decrease in that sector since the labor department began counting such jobs in 1990. Equally surprising, the mining and construction industry -- which had been hit hard by the recession -- added 700 jobs on Long Island, the first increase since September 2008.


The health care industry's negative turn could be attributed to developments at the national level, as many expect cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, said Trudy Goldberg, a professor of social policy at Adelphi University.


"Despite rising demand, [the health care industry] is trying to cut its costs," she said. "Long Island may be on the cusp of this."


Michael Crowell, senior economist in the labor department's Hicksville office, said the addition of construction jobs could be due to recently announced area development projects -- such as solar panel installations, hotel construction and the Broad Hollow Science Park at Farmingdale State College.


The high number of overall jobs lost could be due to national economic problems that have been exacerbated locally, economists said. "The problem is we're just not generating jobs. We need a much stronger national recovery," said Pearl Kamer, chief economist at the Long Island Association.


A significant portion of the jobs decline came from the private sector, which reported 5,100 jobs lost. On the government side, there were 2,700 fewer jobs. The July figures are a switch from last month, when a large portion of 6,800 lost jobs were in the public sector. The private sector losing jobs could be a bad sign for the economic recovery, Kamer said.


"We knew we were losing government jobs because there simply isn't enough government finances available to pay for those jobs," she said, adding that the government was expecting the private sector to fuel job growth. Meanwhile, the U.S. government reported that filings for unemployment benefits went up 9,000 last week, pushing the total number above 400,000.


Stacy Thomas of Amityville is a trained cytotechnologist -- she evaluates cell specimens for signs of cancer -- and lost her job a year and a half ago when her company bought machines to do cancer detection. Thomas says there are still jobs in her field, but she believes her age is working against her. "They're looking for new grads," she said.


On the other hand, Fred Davoudi, 50, of Roslyn Heights, isn't having the same problem with health care jobs. Davoudi used to work in the information technology industry and after losing his job last year took a class at Hofstra University. "Through this class I'm expanding into health care information technology," he said, adding that he has many interviews lined up.


Specifics on other sectors losing jobs include:
• Leisure and hospitality, down 4,200
• Financial activities, down 2,900
• Information, down 1,300

Other sectors gaining  jobs include:
• Professional and business services, up 3,000
• Trade, transportation and utilities, up 1,200

Photo: Participants in a job fair in Melville earlier this week.

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