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Sandy Impacts N. Hempstead Jobs

Unemployment rate Nassau's worst November in two decades, but Sandy recovery could stimulate economy.

Hurricane Sandy didn’t just wreck the region’s infrastructure, it delivered a blow to the jobs market, according to the Long Island Association’s chief economist. 

While the unemployment rate in the Town of North Hempstead dropped in November, the latest month available, a significant number of jobs were shed Islandwide over the previous 12 months. 

“If you look at November 2011 to November 2012, it portrays an even more somber picture of the job market on Long Island,” LIA Chief Economist Pearl M. Kamer said. “These numbers incorporate both the effects of the recent storms and structural weaknesses within key sectors of our economy.” 

Long Island lost 8,100 jobs year-over-year, including 2,700 private sector jobs, according to the state Department of Labor. Nassau and Suffolk counties also had 4,900 fewer government workers than a year earlier. 

The Nassau unemployment rate jumped to 7 percent in November – highest for that month in two decades – compared with 6.4 percent a year earlier.

North Hempstead’s unemployment rate fared better. From a high of 6.5 percent in July, the Town’s unemployment rate moved significantly from October to November, dropping three tenths of a point from 6.1 to 5.8.

Of North Hempstead’s estimated labor force of 113,800, 6,600 were unemployed.

But Kamer dismissed any positive signs in the region’s unemployment rate. “You have to consider why it dropped,” she said. “A lot of that reflects retiring Baby Boomers. Or they dropped out of the labor force because they felt they couldn’t get a job.” 

So called “discouraged workers” lower the unemployment rate through attrition. North Hempstead’s unemployment rate was still historically high: Tied for the third-worst November in the last 20 years. 

Economic resources are pouring in post-Sandy and that should help stabilize the region. The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, for exapmle, administers the Business Recovery Center, set up to help with disaster loan applications, assistance finding state and federal resources for eligible businesses. 

“Hardest hit were many of Long Island’s small businesses, which were flooded, lost power, or both,” Kamer said. Getting those local merchants back on their feet is key to a prosperous 2013.

She sees the recovery effort, from FEMA, insurance claims and other stimulus as a major driver going forward. 

“All that FEMA money and government money and private money that’s going to come in for rebuilding and hardening our infrastructure is going to create jobs for construction workers,” Kamer added. “That’s going to be injected into the economy.”

     November Unemployment

Year North Hempstead Nassau Suffolk State Nation 1992 5.8 6.6 7.7 8.3 7.4 1993 4.6 5.2 6.7 7.4 6.6 1994 3.8 4.3 5.3 5.9 5.6 1995 3.4 3.9 4.8 6.0 5.6 1996 2.7 3.1 3.8 6.0 5.4 1997 2.7 3.1 3.8 5.7 4.6 1998 2.2 2.5 3.1 5.2 4.4 1999 2.4 2.8 3.2 4.7 4.1 2000 2.9 3.1 3.2 4.2 3.9 2001 4.1 4.4 4.4 5.7 5.5 2002 4.0 4.4 4.5 6.2 5.9 2003 4.3 4.6 4.7 6.2 5.8 2004 3.7 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.4 2005 3.7 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.0 2006 3.1 3.5 3.7 4.2 4.5 2007 3.5 3.8 3.9 4.4 4.7 2008 4.8 5.2 5.4 6.0 6.8 2009 6.3 6.9 7.3 8.5 9.9 2010 6.1 7.0 7.5 8.3 9.8 2011 5.7 6.4 7.0 7.9 8.6 2012 5.8 7.0 7.2 7.9 7.8

Note: Sources U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and NYS Department of Labor. Unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force.

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