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Joblessness up in boro: DiNapoli

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had mostly bad news last week for York College students and faculty at the Jamaica school’s executive leadership breakfast, where he said the borough’s unemployment rate had risen this fall amid a state and national economic slump.

DiNapoli, addressing a crowd of nearly 200 people in the college’s faculty dining room, said the borough’s unemployment rate had gone up from 4.5 percent last year to 5.1 percent in October.

But he said Queens’ jobless figure was still lower than the city’s overall 5.8 percent rate.

He said Queens was the borough hardest hit in the ongoing mortgage crisis, with one out of every 355 homes being affected.

“Consumer confidence is very low and you can see a depression in home values,” he said. “But we’ve been through tough times before and we will get through it.”

DiNapoli said the current state budget, which runs through the fiscal year ending March 31, is facing $1.6 billion in deficits. He estimated the next fiscal year could face $12.6 billion in deficits.

He said he believed the red ink was caused primarily by a decline in state revenue earned through personal income and business taxes.

DiNapoli said the state experienced 5.7 percent growth in personal income taxes last year, but this source of revenue is only expected to grow by 0.7 percent this year. He said the next fiscal year could likely see a 3 percent decline. He said the state has also had a 6 percent drop in business taxes this year.

He told the crowd that 16,000 jobs in the state’s financial sector have been lost so far this year and an estimated 225,000 jobs overall would be cut this year in the state.

He said each job lost in the financial sector leads to several other job cuts across a variety of fields.

But he said borough residents did not yet have reason to despair.

“A crisis is an opportunity to shift our focus,” he said. “The challenge for us is how we’ll continue to provide important services and how to be more efficient and effective in how we do it. We shouldn’t focus on quantity, but on quality.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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