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.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Boy Critically Hurt In Apparent Drive-By Shooting, Police Say
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.
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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.
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“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.”MORE NEWS: Commuter Alert: Midtown Tunnel Queens-Bound Tube Closed This Weekend
The report predicts hospitality, recreation and the arts will take two years to recover, with some jobs never returning.