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Survey: 1 in 4 local manufacturers plans to hire in next 6 months

Dr. Leonie Huddy of Stony Brook University addresses

Dr. Leonie Huddy of Stony Brook University addresses the Purolator L.I. Supply Chain Index meeting of the Long Island Association. Credit: David L. Pokress

More local manufacturers, buoyed by optimism about the economy, plan to add employees compared with last year, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Twenty-five percent of factory executives said they expect to increase their payrolls in the next six months. That’s an improvement over May 2016, when 17 percent said they planned to hire.

Six percent of the executives surveyed in Nassau and Suffolk counties said they plan to lay off workers — up slightly from 5 percent last year.

The results came from a poll of 171 plant officials conducted July 21-31. It is the basis of the Purolator International Long Island Supply Chain Index, which debuted last year and was the subject of a Tuesday event at the Long Island Association business group in Melville.

At the event Anne Shybunko-Moore, president of defense contractor GSE Dynamics Inc. in Hauppauge, said it has hired about 20 people in the past 18 months, bringing the total payroll to 70. But she said it’s equally important to train existing employees.

“We are doing continuing education, because you have to stay on the edge of technology in order to be competitive,” she told the audience of about 40 business owners.

Joseph Castronovo, president of Korg USA, a Melville-based distributor of drums, guitars, amplifiers and other musical instruments, agreed. “Eighty-five percent of our employees are musicians,” he said. “But we have to keep it [workers’ knowledge] relevant, and there has to be constant learning.”

The supply chain index factors in manufacturing executives’ predictions about inventory levels, new orders and production activity over the next six months.

Survey responses were converted to numbers to come up with an overall index of 61.6 points, a slight improvement over last year’s 60.6 points. An index above 50 points indicates economic growth, while a number below 50 indicates economic decline, according to Leonie Huddy, the Stony Brook University pollster who helped design the survey and analyzed the results.

In terms of new orders, 53 percent of those polled said they expect higher sales in the next six months, while 9 percent expected orders to decline. Last year, 51 percent predicted an increase in new orders.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 7.5 percentage points.

The supply chain index was conceived by Purolator International president John T. Costanzo. His Jericho-based shipping company pays for the polls, which are conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

Costanzo said, “The indicators show things are looking pretty positive in the months ahead for the Long Island economy.”

PLANNING TO HIRE IN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS

July 2017: 25 percent

May 2016: 17 percent

SOURCE: Purolator International Long Island Supply Chain Index

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