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Long Islanders talk about the job market

Vera Moore, chief executive of Vera Moore Cosmetics, Woodbury

"This is not the first time the economy has been like this, but we're still here," Moore said.

Though the economic environment has been difficult, Moore's cosmetics company has been expanding over the last two years. Her products, which have been featured in Duane Reade drugstores, now have a national presence throughout the Walgreens chain, she said, and she has done some small-scale part-time hiring.

"I stay very laser focused," Moore said. "We are trying to maintain what we do, be innovative and creative and go forward."

Keiko Morris


Linda Lalegian-Parlow, 43, Babylon, unemployed

News of a weaker job market isn't good for job seekers, she said. "Honestly it's discouraging. But I feel it's very important for one to keep pushing forward and not give up." Lalegian-Parlow, who has worked a series of temporary jobs after being laid off from an office manager position in October 2010, said that glut of applicants makes the job search harder. "I believe that it's a tough market out there and companies can afford to be choosy; they can afford to take their time before they bring somebody on board."

Carrie Mason-Draffen


Luis Lopez, 64, owner of Wickers restaurant in Hicksville

The slowing economy worries him. "It's not getting any better; it's getting worse," he said. The restaurant, which serves continental food, offers a Latin menu on Friday to try to attract more customers, but he believes the economy's poor showing makes consumers cautious and less willing to spend money. "People are afraid, and they don't know what the future is going to bring, so they are not spending; the jobs are scarce, and people are not hiring."

He said sales are starting to go down again in the restaurant. "Most likely we will be closing on the weakest days."

Carrie Mason-Draffen


Dan Canobbio, 24, Manorville, works at in Manhattan

Canobbio figured his employment prospects were solid when he graduated last year from New York Institute of Technology. But his job hunt turned out to be a slog.

Openings were scant, and Canobbio spent months competing against over-qualified candidates. "It was definitely a frustrating process," said Canobbio, who majored in communications. Jobs were available in places like North Carolina and Las Vegas, but Canobbio wanted to stay in New York. So he kept looking.

Finally, about a month ago, Canobbio landed a job at, writing rapid-fire news alerts that are blasted out as text messages. "I am lucky," he said. "But it wasn't easy."

Joe Ryan


Edgar Alvarez, 31, restaurant manager in Farmingdale

Alvarez spent years managing a Farmingdale restaurant, working nights and weekends to put himself through college. But one year after graduating from SUNY College at Old Westbury, he is still at the restaurant -- working nights and weekends.

"I've been looking for a different job for a long time. There is nothing out there," he said.

Alvarez hopes to land a job as a high school Spanish teacher. Or perhaps a writer. But after months of fruitless searching, his optimism is waning. "I'm afraid the job market is not getting better anytime in the next five or 10 years," he said.

Joe Ryan



Amira Garbus, 69, co-owner of Huntington Business Products Centre in Huntington.

Garbus said she believes that the actual unemployment rate is far higher than 8.2 percent and that it will take more than a year for the economy to turn itself around. Her sales have been down 15 percent from last year and the store has had to lay off three people from its staff of 20 this year.

"I don't see anything happening good in the near future," Garbus said. "The banks are not giving out money. The housing market is terrible and nothing is moving. We're at a standstill right now."

One of her customers had to put his childhood home up for sale because he can't pay the mortgage.

"He's working, and his wife is working, and they can't make ends meet," Garbus said. "Between the taxes and everything else, it's very difficult."

Keiko Morris


Cindy Verunac, 63, Smithtown, retired bank executive and financial planner

The worsening job market weighs on her. "I have children and I have nieces and nephews who are out of work as a result of the recession. Some are teachers and some worked in the financial industry," she said. And the weak economy has cut her net worth because of the falling value of properties her family owns and because of continuing low interest rates. "Unless you want risk associated with the stock market, you really don't have a choice for your money."

Carrie Mason-Draffen


Alexander Borg, 28, account executive at family-owned Borg & Borg Insurance in Huntington

The national job numbers, the unemployment rate and their influence on the stock markets may not seem to have a direct effect on Long Islanders, but there is certainly a "trickle down," said Borg, who works with business owners ranging from builders to Main Street retailers. He's experienced this both in business and in his personal life.

In the construction industry, for example, the person financing a project may decide to hold off or scale back if his investments take a beating in the stock market. Then contractors or service technicians see less of a need for their services. When the number and size of their jobs decrease, so do their insurance premiums and his commissions, he said.

Borg also was affected personally earlier this week, when he was told he had an offer to purchase his one-bedroom co-op in Huntington Village. By the time he called to confirm, the potential buyer rescinded the offer because of "stock market losses," Borg said.

Nevertheless, he said, he does see some improvement. People laid off from jobs are starting their own companies, he said. "There are signs the economy is coming back to life," he said, " . . . slowly."

Keiko Morris

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