Despite a few bumps, Long Island’s economy is doing well and should continue its smooth sailing through the end of this year, thanks in large part to growing health care and technology sectors, according to a panel of local business leaders.
That was the consensus among panelists at the Hauppauge Industrial Association’s 26th Annual Economic Summit, which brought together more than 150 members of LI’s business community to discuss issues including the housing market, job growth, confidence ratings on Wednesday, when audit and tax firm AVZ also released its 2020 Economic Survey and Opinion Poll.
“Overall, I’m optimistic and I feel very good about the commercial and residential real estate markets on LI,” said Jim Coughlan, a principal at Tritec Real Estate, who stressed that mixed-use developments are a large part of the future on LI. But, he cautioned, “Big houses and taxes will be a challenge for many.”
He stressed the need to provide housing choices that people want at all ages and that includes increased development of downtowns such as Farmingdale and Patchogue, that are attractive to both Millennials and seniors.
As far as jobs and future job growth on the island, forum moderator Bob Quarte, managing partner at AVZ & Company and past HIA-LI president, noted that “by 2030, 1 of every 3 jobs nationwide will be remote.”
“Younger workers, especially Millennials, are generally looking for more of a work-life balance, with more flexible schedules and more free time,” he said.
Among the highlights from the AVZ survey were that in addition to the health care and technology sectors showing the greatest growth potential, overall confidence in the LI economy dipped from 7.2 in 2018 to 6.8 in 2019. Confidence in the national economy also dipped from 7.5 in 2018 to 7.2 in 2019, despite strong economic indicators such as record low unemployment, a robust stock market, and increases in hourly wages.
Rich Humann, president and CEO of H2M Architects + Engineers, spoke to how the technology sector plays a role.
“We’re still in an employee-centered labor market,” he said, noting that employees have an upper-hand due to a continued low unemployment rate near three percent, according to the New York State Department of Labor.
His firm has nearly 300 remote employees, mainly due to physical space constraints at H2M’s offices in New York and New Jersey.
Speaking to the island’s continued surge in health care jobs was Janine Logan, director of communications for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council.
“Right now, 18 percent of the population on LI is 65-plus and that means that varied types of home care, wellness, and preventive care will continue to be viable areas of employment,” said Logan.
She added that many jobs in health care don’t require degrees and can be obtained through training and/or certificates programs. Both Quarte and Logan also stressed the ever-increasing need for mental health/addiction treatment and geriatric specialist jobs.
“Mental health is a growing issue in health care,” said Quarte, citing increasing suicide rates.
Logan agreed, saying that jobs in mental health and addiction will continue to be in high demand.
“Is going to college for everyone?” Quarte asked. “What about trade schools?”
Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College, said, “Not everyone needs a college degree, but everyone needs and education.”
He spoke about the ranges of varied programs available at Farmingdale from engineering degrees to certificate programs.
“There are many options to traditional degrees and more students are looking at micro credentials, like mini-degrees or certifications in specific topic areas or varied certificate programs in areas such as technology, criminal justice, or health care,” he said.
Other highlights from AVZ’s survey included findings that 43 percent of firms on LI had no issues finding skilled workers, 46 percent of firms increased their headcount;, 20 percent of firms gave salary increases of five to nine percent, more than 70 percent of those surveyed plan on working either full or part-time after they retired.