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Long IslandColumnists

Reports of economic growth don't feel real

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan. The Dow Jones industrial average extended its record high Friday for a fourth day in a row. Credit: Getty Images

Feeling rich yet?

The Dow hit another all-time high on Friday. The whole stock market has been soaring like an eagle out of Lance Armstrong's medicine chest. The Labor Department's latest jobs report was "brisk" (Wall Street Journal), "great news" (Washington Post) and "about damn time" (me). Even Long Island housing prices, which have been lingering in the basement longer than a 30-year-old slacker son, are stirring again.

All the numbers seem to be pointing skyward -- except for the ones most people live by. My mortgage payment was nine days late again, and my Citibank account is back in the negative territory known as CheckingPlus. Wouldn't CheckingMinus be a more honest name?

A few more people may be working again, but that doesn't mean they aren't still broke. Those 236,000 jobs the economy created in February aren't all for hedge-fund execs and Yankee relief pitchers, although there could soon be an opening in that second category. Most of the jobs that are coming back aren't nearly as good as the ones that have been lured or chased away.

The 850 jobs Northrop Grumman will soon be shipping to Florida and California -- they might be replaced, eventually, by jobs in sectors like health care, retail and leisure and hospitality. And that's nice. Any job is better than no job.

But it's still almost impossible to raise a family or a buy a home on some of these shrunken wages, no matter how great you are at bussing tables or emptying bedpans.


1. Double-wide trailers

2. Half-day-old bread

3. Newer used cars

4. Reclaiming items from the pawnshop

5. Kentucky Fried Squirrel

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: No more booing at Riverhead town board meetings? How long will council members have to wait to hear residents clap? Under newly adopted no-boos legislation, clapping is allowed. Who's surprised? . . . So now Long Beach wants a Corps of Engineers coastal-protection plan? The same plan that was rejected in 2006 -- or as that era is now known in LB, "six years before Sandy blew the beach away"? . . . Does Manorhaven Village attorney Charles Casolaro need anger-management training? At a recent village-board meeting, the blustery barrister sure blew up over a newspaper ad ("garbage!") from local critic Jim Avena and the Manorhaven Residents Party . . . Will a state-of-the-art projection system and feeds from NASA make the stars any nicer to gaze at in Centerport's revamped Vanderbilt planetarium? . . . How many more false-arrest lawsuits will be filed against suspended Southampton street-crimes cop Eric Sickles? . . . Thieves stole $15,000 worth of "food products" from a Dunkin' Donuts in Hicksville -- and no one made a cops-and-doughnuts joke? . . . Gerry-what? If all 10 Republicans voted yes and all nine Democrats voted no, which party do you think will be aided by the Nassau Legislature's new district map . . . Did the Suffolk Legislature's energy-drink hearing really go for four hours? Just under the wire for a 5-hour ENERGY drink? Who needs a nap now?

THE NEWS IN SONG: Bless my heart, bless my mind: Alabama Shakes, "Hold On,"


There was a day, a time of Hellcats, Intruders and Apollos, when the aeronautics firm that Leroy Grumman built had a Long Island workforce of 25,000. This past week, the once beloved defense behemoth announced yet another major whack. This one will pare the local payroll to a keep-the-lights-on level of 450. Every one of those missing jobs left a giant vacuum for the man or woman who lost it and the many, many others -- all of us, really -- who counted on them. With little Grumman employment left now, an inevitable tipping point has finally arrived. The still proud name is less an employer and more an alumni club. "Yeah," people still say: "I'm ex-Grumman."

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