Broken Clouds 56° Good Afternoon
Broken Clouds 56° Good Afternoon

LI needs an economic pick-me-up

Residents from the Long Island area search for

Residents from the Long Island area search for jobs at the Hempstead Job Center (Aug. 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

As regions go, Long Island is suffering less than most in these hard economic times. Yet the picture here is dark nonetheless.

That's the implication of the Long Island Association's latest monthly economic report, prepared by LIA chief economist Pearl Kamer.

The business organization's report says Long Island had a third-straight month of job losses in July, and that consumers, particularly in Nassau County, are feeling cautious about spending, as evidenced by anemic growth in sales tax revenues.

Most startling is the presence of inflation amid all this slow growth. The July consumer inflation rate in the larger New York region was 3.3 percent, raising the dismal prospect of stagflation, an economic disorder last seen in this country during the Jimmy Carter years.

Home prices were still falling in July: 3.7 percent in Nassau and 7.4 percent in Suffolk, year over year. The number of homes sold grew strongly in the same 12-month period, but the strength of this number is misleading, because the year-ago figure was artificially depressed by the expiration of a temporary federal tax credit for home buyers. That makes the more recent figure look better than it is.

Kamer puts it bluntly: "The Long Island economy has yet to emerge from the recent recession."

It's a gloomy picture, and unlikely to improve until employment picks up. President Barack Obama's focus on jobs in his speech tonight couldn't be timelier. hN