John R. Durso, of the Long Island Federation of Labor.

John R. Durso, of the Long Island Federation of Labor. Credit: Howard Schnapp

In the upcoming week, many students will return to their colleges and universities for their final semester before graduation. However, many young people face a lose-lose situation once they reach that milestone in May.

We are in one of the worst labor markets in nearly three decades. Those who are lucky enough to find jobs, often find positions that are underpaid and without benefits.

As a result, many young men and women are forced to delay the next step into full independence and instead remain at home. Others are flocking to states such as North Carolina, Arizona and Pennsylvania, where the cost of living is significantly more affordable.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed the establishment of 10 Regional Economic Development Councils as a remedy to the inefficient Industrial Development Agencies. These new councils will draw on the talents and expertise of representatives from local governments and IDAs, businesses, labor and other local organizations with the goal of creating jobs and stimulating local economies.

While we understand that the "brain drain" is a critical problem for the future of many areas of the state, little has been done to actually address and correct it.

Projects in the short term must create much-needed construction jobs, while also leading to hundreds of permanent jobs. Additionally, plans should include the construction of affordable housing and the revitalization of our downtowns.

Long Island and many other regions of New York will become ghost towns if we do not keep young people here - and keep them here with purpose. We must remember that we cannot make blind decisions for them based on our own perceptions of what is "best" for future generations. Instead, we must bring young men and women to the table and listen to their unique concerns.

John Durso


Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Long Island Federation of Labor.