Unemployment rate here near 10 percent
Southold’s unemployment figures in recent years show a far more bleak picture than its sunny vacation shores reveal, and Riverhead is still struggling with high unemployment rates.
The Suffolk County Department of Labor is launching a pilot program in Mattituck in late September to help North Forkers who are out of work but can’t get to Hauppauge to visit the county’s One-Stop Employment Center. Another small satellite office of the One-Stop center is located at the County Center in Riverhead.
Labor statistics in Southold are sketchy, because New York State does not keep records on unemployment rates in towns with fewer than 25,000 residents, but Deputy Town Supervisor Phillip Beltz has received information from census analysts that shows 9.8 percent of Southold residents were unemployed in 2009, more than double the unemployment rate shown by the 2000 census.
The New York State Department of Labor’s most recent statistics show that 7.4 percent of Suffolk County residents and 6.8 percent of Riverhead residents were unemployed in July, when the national unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. The unemployment rate in Riverhead has declined since a high of 8.9 percent in March 2010.
Mr. Beltz and Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell recently took a tour of the county One-Stop Employment Center to see what kind of services it could supply in Southold.
“That center is one of the best-kept secrets. It’s a hidden jewel,” said Mr. Russell at a recent town board meeting. “The whole facility is set up for training, for resume writing and computer skills. A lot of the problem is not just with the bad economy, it’s with jobs you’re not getting back. You need to refit a work force.”
The county plans initially to offer services one day per month at the town’s Human Resource Center on Pacific Avenue in Mattituck, beginning September 27 from 1 to 4 p.m.
“We’ll send one of our best counselors out here, someone who’s cross-trained,” said the program’s director, Marc Bossert, at a town board work session August 24. “It will be a person who can get them going in the right direction if they’re stuck with unemployment claims, food stamps. We’ll help them with a comprehensive job search strategy. Unemployment is a very lonely situation. People don’t turn to friends because of the stigma. Being able to talk to a professional is one of the first big steps.”