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Nassau Unemployment Rate Sits at 6.8 Percent, While Hempstead Town Sees Small Dip

Five Towns seems to be improving, Hewlett business leader says.

Nassau County's unemployment rate remained at 6.8 percent in October, as it has for the past three months, according to statistics released Thursday by the New York State Department of Labor. The county unemployment rate was 7 percent a year ago.

The Town of Hempstead unemployment rate for August was 7.1 percent, a drop from 7.3 percent the year prior. The unemployment rate had been as low as 6.7 percent in April and as high as 7.9 percent in February.

 "The overall report is pretty positive. The numbers track fairly closely to the national data," said Gary Huth, regional analyst for New York State Department of Labor. "We're doing better than the national economy. It's slow but improving. There does appear to be some degree of certainty of the viability of recovery. But the speed of the recovery is a little slower that we'd like to see."

The statewide unemployment rate has remained flat at 8 percent since September, however it is down .2 percent from August.

"My feelings are that businesses are picking up here," said Joe Gelb, the head of the Hewlett Business Association. "We also seem to filling some of the vacancies."

Dr. Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association, still sees a sobering side to the numbers. "You have to keep in mind that this is the official unemployment rate," he said. "There is another unemployment rate that includes people who are working part time involuntarily because they can't find a full-time job, and there are the so-called discouraged workers who stopped looking for work because they couldn't find a job."

Huth pointed out that the financial services industry is lagging. "It's down 1,500 jobs compared to a year ago," he said. "A year ago it was at the bottom of the sector. It was one of the hardest hit. There has been improvement."

Legislator Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) said it's as important as ever now to help fellow community members out. "Long term, I'd encourage people to work here, invest here and help us get the taxes down," he said.

Still, Gelb is optimistic. "The community still seems to have a reasonable income and they seem to be starting to spend," he said. "You can't expect things to change at the snap of your fingers and get better. It takes time."

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