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A fraction of laid-off workers are being recalled to work, survey says

Long Island businesses participated in both polls, which

Long Island businesses participated in both polls, which were conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from May 4 to May 10. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Factories, retailers and other service firms are beginning to recall laid-off and furloughed employees, though the numbers are small, according to surveys released Monday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said manufacturers across the state have recalled, on average, seven employees out of the 20 who were idled by the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown of nonessential activity to slow the virus’ spread.

Among retailers and other service firms in the metropolitan area, five employees, on average, have been recalled out of the 54 who were thrown out of work.

The bank surveyed about 125 factories in New York State and about 200 service firms in the state, northern New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Long Island businesses participated in both polls, which took place May 4-10.

“Among both service and manufacturing respondents, the vast majority of people on layoff or furlough would be called back if [economic] conditions returned to normal in the next three months,” the New York Fed said on Monday.

“Already, of those workers laid off or furloughed, manufacturers have attempted to call more than a third back. Meanwhile, service firms have attempted to call back 9%. In addition, a number of respondents said that they have started to hire new workers,”  the bank said.

In both surveys, executives predicted the pandemic would last another six months — and worst-case, another year.

Still, service firm officials are more pessimistic about the next six months than factory executives.

The New York Fed said its index of future business activity for service firms rose 26 points this month to -5 compared with April’s reading of -31 points. The index’s break-even point is zero.

A similar index for manufacturers climbed 22 points this month to 29 compared with April’s reading of 7 points. The index didn’t turn negative in the two-month period.

Service firms “were generally pessimistic about the six-month outlook, though much less so than in April.”

Separately, the vast majority of factories and service firms  surveyed said they have been approved for Paycheck Protection Program loans.

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