Tag Archives: Unemployment

Op-ed: Finding jobs in Queens


| oped@queenscourier.com

 STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO, JR.

As the winter weather is at long last breaking, so is a seemingly never-ending downturn in the labor sector. Employers appear to be relishing in warmer temperatures as suddenly the country has seen an increase in jobs for education, health, retail and more.

The United States’ unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent in April — the lowest stat in about five years, according to the Labor Department.

However, at home, we still have work to do. While the country overall has seen improvement, New York City — and Queens — might be falling behind.

The latest numbers show the city at about an 8 percent unemployment rate and Queens not far behind at 7.6 percent. Residents in Queens, the most diverse and one of most populous New York City boroughs, have a range of skill sets that presumably would be ideal for any given employer, yet we continue to fall short with job opportunities.

It is no secret the city’s middle class population has struggled to maintain its class status. My constituents speak of holding two or more jobs or living in a multiple-income household just to get by. But there is also the all-too-frequent case of those coming to my office because they are trapped — unable to find work and scared as to how they will move forward.

For the younger demographic, many fresh out of college and eager to work, finding a job is priority number one. I know this group has the energy to apply to companies day in and day out, and many of them are rewarded for this perseverance. However, those with a few more years under their belt are occasionally overlooked by employers.

My office is hosting job fairs to address the need for finding employment for those who want to work. The first job fair is for those 50 years old and over. I have come to see this growing, overlooked senior population run into a variety of issues when searching for a job — sometimes they have “too much” experience; other times their work history doesn’t line up with current job qualifications. Many times, this group is too busy running a household or taking care of children to devote an endless amount of time to filling out applications. That’s the reason we sought specific vendors to help the older individuals find a job.

The Senior 50+ Job Fair is on Friday, May 30, at the Queens Community House in Kew Gardens, where groups such as the New York State Department of Labor, Sunnyside Home Care Inc., Family Aides Inc., GoodTemps, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and more will be present to give attendees the opportunities they need. Over the last year, the health care sector was one that added the most jobs and grew the fastest.

My other job fair is Friday, Sept. 19, and will feature approximately 100 vendors offering job opportunities to all who attend. That job fair will be held at the new Rockaway YMCA located at 207 Beach 73rd Street. For more details on either job fair, call me at 718-738-1111.

 

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Returning soldiers seek employment at veteran job fair


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Ruben Muniz

Veterans recently suited up, got their game face on and sprung into action.

A job fair for military veterans was held at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale on Friday, June 8. Over 90 companies and organizations were in attendance as well as State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller.

“Veterans have a lot of hurdles to jump over once they return,” Addabbo said.

The job fair comes at a time where many veterans are struggling to find employment. The unemployment rate for all veterans is 7.8 percent, below the national average of 8.2 percent, but nearly 13 percent of returning soldiers find themselves without a job,

“The transition from military to civilian life is challenging,” said Chris Bliss, a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas in Bosnia and Iraq.

Bliss was recruiting at the fair for NYC Business Solutions, a city government initiative offering free services for new small business owners.

“Life goes on after the service. You have to find a job,” said Bliss.

Ellis Gomez, a U.S. Navy veteran originally from Puerto Rico who has several years experience in the Navy as an electrical technician as well as degree in electrical engineering, said it has not been easy to land a job in this economy.

“[The job market] has a lot of ups and downs,” Gomez said, who was one of more than 100 vets at the fair.

U.S. Army vet and Queens resident Louis Goagioa felt that the discipline and humility of veterans gives them an edge in the job market.

“Veterans are much more coachable. They are ready to learn at all times,” said Goagioa. “It’s been more than difficult for veterans [to find a job]. It’s disheartening.” Addabbo stressed the importance of taking initiative to help veterans.

“We do a lot for our veterans, but we can still do more.”

Assembly held to bring Occupy Wall Street to Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Whitey Flagg is aiming to “occupy” the attention of New York’s largest borough.

The 40-year-old Jackson Heights resident, who participated in Occupy Wall Street during the movement’s first month and was arrested while marching on the Brooklyn Bridge, is hoping to bring principles promoted at Zuccotti Park to Queens.

“After spending so much time there, I realized that the future of the movement was going to be when the general assembly started moving into people’s communities,” said Flagg, the founding member of Occupy Queens. “I decided my time was better spent helping start something here in Queens.”

To initiate the Occupy Queens movement, a general assembly was held on November 11 at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, located at 37-06 77th Street. More than 150 people attended the assembly to voice their concerns and opinions regarding the major issues facing the borough.

“I came here because I think that we need to get together and organize for jobs,” said Molly Charboneau, a resident of Sunnyside. “The unemployment rate is too high and we’ve lost too many jobs. In Queens in particular, we have had so many closings and layoffs. We need to band together and fight this. I hope this will put regular people in touch with one another because we are the ones that really have the power. It’s the everyday people who have to organize together and fight back.”

Among the topics discussed at the meeting were housing foreclosures in Queens, prejudice against immigrants, the lack of open spaces in Jackson Heights and public transportation issues in the borough.

During the assembly, a teacher addressed the failures of the public school system.

“I’m tired of seeing our kids falling through the cracks,” he said. “I have kids who can barely read the words ‘the’ and ‘that.’”

In order to facilitate widespread change, the movement organizes working groups, which each tackle specific issues. Any person can start a working group to address a subject they deem important.

The next general assembly will be held on November 18 at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights. Flagg is hoping the movement will spread across Queens and adopt the personalities of each of the borough’s unique communities.

“This is really about the frame of mind that people should be involved in their democracy again,” he said. “Every general assembly will be different, and people are supposed to alter it for their community. It is not about any particular topics. It is about what each community is interested in and what each community wants to change about their environment. I hope people get involved, start to realize that their voices do matter, and if they come together, they can make a change. We want to facilitate change.

Op Ed: Labor invests in ‘The American Dream’


| gfloyd@queenscourier.com

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President Barack Obama recently proposed the American Jobs Act as a remedy to end the most devastating unemployment our nation has experienced since the Great Depression.

I have an idea on how to help.

In consultation with our financial advisors, union pension funds are routinely invested in various projects and bonds that will protect those funds, and enable them to grow. Often, those projects involve other states and nations. But here’s my thought: Let’s invest in America.

Specifically, let’s invest in New York where the added value would be job creation for New York workers. And I know this works. We tried it before with great results, in New York City in the 1970s and, before that, President Dwight Eisenhower successfully used this idea in the 1950s for building interstate highways. It’s already being done in California, where its public employee retirement system (CalPERS) has just earmarked an additional $800 million for infrastructure investment…on top of the $60 million already invested.

Some will see this as merely a “PR” smoke screen to counter critics of unions who say pensions, especially public employee pensions, are the cause of our nation’s economic crisis. But they are not. What the union-bashers forget is that we’re Americans too. We pay taxes and are struggling to do more with less, just like everyone else. We didn’t cause this mess we’re in!

The recent Census shows that poverty in the nation is at an all time high of 15 percent. And in New York, poverty is even higher, at 16 percent — marking the worst it has been since 1998. Experts warn that we run the risk of creating a new “underclass.” Clearly, we’ve got to do something to help ourselves and we’ve got to do it now!

I want to work with the president of New York State’s AFL-CIO, Denis Hughes, and my other colleagues in labor to identify different investment projects that will safeguard the money of pensioners as well as create jobs for New Yorkers.

This initiative will bring the labor movement back to its roots. Labor unions helped to build our nation’s middle class. We helped to make the “American Dream” come true. Sadly, some people have forgotten this. They only see the economic nightmare we all share.

This pension investment plan would revive the “American Dream” for our children and rebuild the middle class through investments in America by Americans and for Americans.

By Gregory Floyd, President of City Employees Union Local 237 International Brotherhood of Teamsters