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Job seekers: Job creation should be Job #1

Job seeker Liz Cardinale, 51, of Coram, summed up the state of the job market in one word Thursday: "Horrible."

Cardinale lost her job in November when the bank customer center where she worked closed. She was at a job fair in Melville Thursday, handing out her resume and looking for openings. "There are so many people going for the same job," she said. For more than a year, Long Island and the rest of the country have shed jobs. But residents disagree on how Democrats have handled the economy so far and whether they can fix it.

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Some say Democrats should switch gears from health care to creating new jobs. "We do need health care reform in this country," said Duane Moise, 33, a physician from Far Rockaway. "But in reality, people care about putting food on the table."

But Bob Willis, 58, of East Meadow, says President Barack Obama's ability to create more jobs is limited. "It's very hard to find somebody a job when nothing's being produced," said the retired locomotive engineer. Changes to health care policy, meanwhile, are long overdue, he said.

Most people at yesterday's job fair at the Melville Marriott were optimistic that the economy would turn around soon. But several said Washington hadn't done enough to help them.

Elicia Minogue, 28, of Hampton Bays, was seeking a job with benefits and steadier hours. She answered a question on Obama with a thumbs-down, calling him the "biggest disappointment."

Daniel Hill, 22, of Amityville, was laid off from a construction job in July. He earned his certification in operating heavy equipment in the hope of getting an edge over other job-seekers. He said bailouts are not helping the unemployed. "We are the ones that are struggling," he said.

Elsewhere, some with jobs said they were starting to do better, in part due to government action. Jillian Senra, 32, of Levittown, said her business as a real estate agent had improved thanks to the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers. But Jim Galizia, 45, of Commack, said Washington has to put money into local businesses to prevent layoffs and salary cuts.

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