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Long Islanders weathering the job outlook

Steve Rubin poses for Newsday in his office.

Steve Rubin poses for Newsday in his office. Steve is a patent attorney for Moritt Hock & Hamroff LLP in Garden City. He has been with the firm for three weeks. (Feb. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

Steven Rubin, 38

Oceanside, Attorney

Rubin spent 18 months looking for a suitable new home for his growing patent law practice before settling last month at Moritt Hock & Hamroff in Garden City.

During the downturn, many law firms were afraid to invest in a new practice -- specifically the marketing and administrative expenses that come with it, he said. (New lawyers don't just need new offices, but also administrative staff and filing space, Rubin pointed out.)

Things seemed to change recently, however, and Rubin started at his new position Jan. 10.

"I think the past 6 to 9 months people are more interested in thinking about trying something new," he said.

Rubin helps clients protect their new intellectual property, focusing on new businesses with technologies in electronics and computer science -- startup businesses that create jobs, he said. "Those are going to be the new drivers of the economy," Rubin added.

-- Jonathan Starkey


Jasmine Johnson, 20

Hempstead, Student

Johnson, a student studying to become a medical assistant, said she personally hasn't felt the negative effects of the slow economy. Johnson, who works part-time at a KFC, considers herself "blessed," because she and her friends go to school and have jobs and parents to help them. However, she is aware of people struggling -- people who are homeless and some with minimum-wage jobs and no other financial help.

"We go to school and work, so we can't say there's a downfall," Johnson said. "We can eat. We have parents to support us." She added, "My mother is not one to worry about that. As long as you have feet and a brain and go to school and you got a job, you can eat."

-- Keiko Morris


Barbara Makowski, 51

Bayville, Unemployed bookkeeper

Makowski lost her job as a bookkeeper at a nonprofit in November 2010, after seven years on the job.

Though the national jobs picture brightened considerably in January, Makowski believes that improvement hasn't reached Long Island.

"I don't see where those jobs have been created on Long Island," she said. "If they have, there is so much competition."

She said she often sees advertisements for part-time bookkeeping jobs paying half what she was making per hour.

"You can't pay your rent," said Makowski, who Friday was at the Hicksville location of Workforce New York, a state Labor Department career center that provides job services and training.

Makowski believes government needs to do more to spur businesses to hire.

"They'd better give some more incentives to companies and lower the payroll taxes to help the employers so maybe they can pay employees," she said.

-- Carrie Mason-Draffen


Christopher DeNigris, 26

Babylon, Under-employed teacher

DeNigris thought a graduate degree in education would give him the advantage he needed to land a social studies teaching job during the economic downturn. But three years after earning his advanced diploma from Dowling College, an exhaustive job search is threatening to chase DeNigris from Long Island.

"It's just absolutely brutal," said DeNigris, who has been unable to land a full-time job. After many failed interviews, he's now applying for teaching positions in California, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and even Hawaii.

Meanwhile, DeNigris is living with his parents, getting by without health insurance, and substitute teaching most days, relying on those early morning phone calls for income.

DeNigris said more experienced out-of-work teachers appear to be snagging every open job. In other cases, positions are never filled.

"I can't buy a job," DeNigris said. "At this point, I have no hope for Long Island."

-- Jonathan Starkey


Evelyn Stovelo, 65

Elmont, Retired

Stovelo, a retired dietitian, hopes that by the end of the year many people deeply affected by the downturn and ensuing stagnant economy will be able to begin rehabilitating their lives. Though she is enjoying her retirement, she hopes an improved environment will allow her to find a part-time job and bring in a little extra income. She viewed Friday's jobs report as a good sign.

"I see a lot of things improving, but it's very slow," Stovelo said. "I see a lot of homes in foreclosure. I realize it's going to take time."

The poor economy "is affecting people physically, mentally and causing people to be on the streets and homeless," said Stovelo. "Hopefully, this bad economy will come to an end in 2012 and everybody can get back on their feet again."

-- Keiko Morris


Jo Anne Klement, 65

Westbury, Unemployed

Klement became unemployed in 2010, when her job in a local retailer's call center was outsourced after a year.

"So many of the jobs I can't do any more because they have been sent overseas," Klement said.

Her 15 years of experience as an administrative assistant in the health-care industry hasn't given her the edge she expected. After sending out hundreds of resumes, Klement became so discouraged that she dropped out of the job market for five months. She resumed her job search yesterday at the Hicksville location of Workforce New York, a state Labor Department career center that provides job services and training.

"Part of the problem is my age," she said. "It feels like they're putting me on an iceberg . . . I would like to see our government involved in education, health care and child care to create jobs."

-- Carrie Mason-Draffen


Claude Washington, 54

Roosevelt, Unemployed

Washington hasn't seen much improvement. He was laid off two years ago from his position as a receptionist at a Nassau County mental health clinic. He had worked there for seven years. He gets by on some savings and disability.

He said he overhears a lot of conversations on the bus -- people talking about looking for work, or if they have work, the job doesn't pay enough to pay all the bills.

"It's not really getting better," Washington said. "I come across a lot of people out of work and homeless."

-- Keiko Morris


Tom Warmingham, 55

Farmingdale, Sales manager

Warmingham looks around and, despite positive economic signs nationally, said it's difficult to shake his pessimism about Long Island's long-dreary job market. "I know a lot of people getting laid off," Warmingham said. "I know a lot of people out of work. Friends, co-workers."

Warmingham works as a regional sales manager for a Hauppauge company, selling vandal-resistant stop buttons, fire recall switches, digital displays and other fixtures for elevators. But his business customers -- still consumed with economic uncertainty -- remain reluctant to invest in new equipment, Warmingham said. Sales remain soft, he said.

"Nobody is being loose with their money," Warmingham said. And that's left him less than confident about his own job. "Do I feel secure? No. They're laying off people left and right," Warmingham said. "I don't foresee it getting any better."

-- Jonathan Starkey


Maryna Moran, 20

Hempstead, Unemployed

Moran recently moved to Hempstead and is looking for jobs in retail and restaurants. She has submitted applications to a number of jobs and is optimistic.

"It's not great. It's OK. I think it stayed in the middle," Moran said of the economy. "Some people have jobs. Some people don't."

But she's hopeful. "There are a lot of jobs out there, people who are hiring," she said.

-- Keiko Morris


Andrew Schreier, 19

Elmont, Student

Schreier is paying his own way at Farmingdale State College, where he's studying criminal justice. But, recently, covering the bills got slightly more challenging. Schreier works part-time at a tuxedo rental shop in Garden City, and saw his hours slashed from 30 hours weekly to a meager 5. "It's just paying for gas," said a frustrated Shreier. "And barely that."

Schreier, who lives with his parents, went looking for other jobs recently with little luck. Notably, he was turned down for a job at McDonald's, and at a car-washing business. Still Schreier doesn't yet have to worry about his school loans, and is holding out some hope for the tux job.

"Once prom season picks up, my hours and pay will increase," Schreier said.

-- Jonathan Starkey

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