A gloomy national jobs report for May has sparked fears of a weakening economy on Wall Street, but a steady recovery continues on Main streets throughout the Long Island suburbs.
No one is more emblematic of the new optimism than Chris O’Donnell, a former Wall Street executive who in the last month opened C & C Skate Factory, an extreme sports retailer, on Main Street in Farmingdale.
"There was a demand for it," said O'Donnell, who is looking to hire two full-time and one part-time employees this summer. "I took a look at Main Street and saw 12-14 empty stores and it just seemed like a good time to [open a business]."
O’Donnell, 33, traded long hours as director of events at the New York Stock Exchange to be closer to his family and neighborhood on the Nassau-Suffolk border.
“My wife and I live in the community and we have a stake in it doing well,” O’Donnell told Patch. “I don’t want people to drive through Farmingdale; I want them to drive to Farmingdale. That’s a big difference.”
The for the Town of Oyster Bay, which includes Farmingdale – released last week by the New York State Department of Labor – show unemployment at 5.8 percent (8,833 persons) in April, down from 6.4 percent a year earlier. There were 153 fewer unemployed in April compared to March.
The state Labor numbers did show private sector job growth across Long Island slowed. In April, for instance, 6,200 jobs were added. But in March and earlier in the year, the region was adding 10,000 jobs or more a month.
Job seekers and merchants alike are hopeful, even if signs of a full-on recovery are not obvious.
Francesca Carlow sees an clear jump in the local economy. The owner of in Plainview says the winter months were dismal but has seen business increase in the last three weeks.
"I'm also hearing that many of my sons' friends – 21-year-olds – are finding jobs now," Carlow said. "But then, you hear of 100 teachers being laid off nearby."
Fred Ordoñez is hiring at Village Bagels in Syosset.
"We're hiring now," said Ordoñez, whose eatery has been open 10 months. "We're looking for one full-time and one part-time person. This area is at a high level and they don't feel [the bad economy] really."
Shawn Weiss, 21, was waiting to be interviewed Friday morning at the coffee shop at . The recent SUNY-New Paltz graduate hoped to land an internship in social media.
"As long as I get more experience I'll be able to send out my resume and be better,” Weiss said. “There's a decent amount of jobs for certain markets, which is nice, especially for entry-level."
Marc Soojian, 33, an anesthesiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, just , an eatery off Main Street in the North Shore village of Northport. He’s so optimistic in the brand – the original Oakland restaurant was started by his great grandfather in 1929 – Soojian signed a 10-year lease.
“Our business started during the Great Depression and survived the Great Depression,” Soojian said. “The type of food we’re serving is inexpensive.”
That's comfort food served with a dollop of optimism.
With reporting by , , , and .