MELVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The impact of the coronavirus pandemic and its shutdown is being tallied on Long Island.
A new report says the island lost a greater percentage of jobs than New York City, and could lose more than a quarter of its workforce by year’s end.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, the lounge is off limits – for now – at the Hilton Long Island. Front desk clerks are behind plastic barriers, disinfection of common areas is done continually and rooms are safety sealed after hospital-grade cleaning.
It’s part of a push to win back guests after the hospitality industry was crushed by the pandemic: 82,000 jobs lost on Long Island – the hardest hit industry.
“Normally I have 160 employees. I had to lose two thirds of that,” said Hilton Long Island General Manager Gus Montesantos.
Job loss numbers are jarring across Long Island.
“We have been hammered,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
The county executives of Suffolk and Nassau are joining to unveil a study that finds the impact of 375,000 jobs lost by year’s end. The hardest hit: Low wage earners without college education in hospitality, health care, retail, construction, administrative, persona services and real estate.
“We have seen the fastest rise in unemployment on record. So it’s like falling off a cliff, fall off of economic activity, which our new report calls economic shock,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
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The sudden drop off in revenue is akin to a natural disaster that both argue cries out for federal help.
“COVID-19 has turned the Long Island economy upside down. And what do we need to do to recover? Three words: Federal disaster assistance,” Bellone said.
“We are looking at seeing the devastation from this extended out more than a decade and that is unacceptable,” Bellone added.
Recovery will also require pivoting. The Hilton is renting out their parking lot for extra income, and promoting “staycation” specials.
“It’s a little resort away from home. We have an outdoor pool… we have tennis courts, basketball. Down the street, there’s a horseback riding trail,” said Lisa Scuteri of Hilton Long Island. “We want to focus on local community to help us, help save the industry.”
The report predicts hospitality, recreation and the arts will take two years to recover, with some jobs never returning.
SOURCE: CBS News