Economy of Long Island

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Long Island's commuter towns are well known for supplying skilled labor to more urban places, but its two counties have their own factories, offices, schools and other workplaces, employing more workers than those who commute to distant jobs.


The counties of Nassau and Suffolk have long been renowned for their affluence and high standard of living. This affluence is especially pervasive among the hamlets and villages on the North Shore of Long Island, the extreme eastern South Shore (home to the Hamptons) and several wealthy pockets along the South Shore further west. However, nearly all of Long Island (especially Nassau County and western Suffolk County) is quite expensive to live on by national standards.

Long Island is home to some of the most expensive mansions in the country. In 2005, the most expensive residence in the country was Three Ponds in Bridgehampton.[1] Several of the nation's largest private residences are also on Long Island, including financier Ira Rennert's, Fair Field, in the Hampton's hamlet of Sagaponack and the country's second largest home, Oheka Castle. Long Island is home to the luxury communities of the Hamptons, Cold Spring Harbor, Dix Hills, Centerport, Huntington Bay, and Lloyd Harbor in Suffolk County, and Hewlett Bay Park, Cove Neck, Oyster Bay Cove, Laurel Hollow, Sands Point, Roslyn, Brookville, Old Brookville, Upper Brookville, Lattingtown, Matinecock, Muttontown, Hewlett Harbor, and Manhasset in Nassau County.

Aviation industry[edit]

Long Island industry has long benefited from its proximity to New York City. During the 1930s, the island developed an aviation industry, and until about 1990 was considered one of the aviation centers of the United States, with companies such as Grumman Aircraft having their headquarters and factories in the Bethpage area. Grumman was long a major supplier of warplanes for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps, as seen in many movies. Prominent WW-II Grumman aircraft included the Grumman F4F Wildcat and Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters, and the Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber. Grumman was also prominent in the US space program, being the producer of the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module.

In their early decades, aerospace-related companies were concentrated on Long Island, especially in eastern Nassau County in the Bethpage area. Over the years, the industry also diversified to other locations. The Sperry Gyroscope company did very well during WW-II as military demand skyrocketed; it specialized in high technology devices such as gyrocompasses, analog computer-controlled bombsights, airborne radar systems, and automated take-off and landing systems. These became jumping-off points into the multibillion-dollar annually avionics business. During the Cold War decade of the 1950s, part of Sperry Gyroscope was moved to Phoenix, Arizona. This was to try to preserve parts of this vital defense company in the event of nuclear warfare. Both on Long Island and in Arizona, Sperry continued to excel in avionics, and it also provided avionics systems for such NASA programs as the Space Shuttle.

The Cradle of Aviation Museum illustrates and celebrates Long Island aviation.

Long island is home to major divisions of the aircraft systems manufacturer, B/E Aerospace. Their products range from cabin lighting assemblies to aircraft lavatory systems.

Science and engineering[edit]

Long Island has played a prominent role in scientific research and in engineering. It was the home of the Grumman Aircraft factories where all the Apollo program Lunar Module spacecraft were built; and it still is the home of the Brookhaven National Laboratories in nuclear physics and Department of Energy research. All of this makes Long Island one of the leading high-technology areas in the world.

Late in the 20th century companies such as Sperry Rand and Computer Associates, headquartered in Islandia, made Long Island a center for the computer industry. Gentiva Health Services, a national provider of home health and pharmacy services, also is headquartered in Long Island.

Long Island was home to the first Trans-Atlantic radio broadcast, from Rocky Point, New York to Paris, France.


Long Island, NY is rich in farming history and features many produce farms located on both the North Shore and South Shores. Because the western and central regions of the island are now largely devoted to residential use, the East End of the island is now the primary agricultural area of Long Island.

East End farms and farmers' markets are the major providers of Long Island's remaining supplies of locally grown fruits, berries, vegetables, poultry, and dairy products. Some farms offer pick-your-own peaches, apples, and pumpkins. [1] This has become a traditional spring, summer, and fall outing for many Long Island residents. [2] The island also still has a considerable area and resources even in Nassau County devoted to landscaping horticulture.

Long Island wine[edit]

In little over quarter of a century the Long Island wine industry has grown from one vineyard to 3,000 acres (12 km2) of vines in thirty wineries. The island's maritime climate, geography and soil characteristics provide good winegrowing conditions.

The Long Island wine region formally encompasses all of Nassau County and Suffolk County, but most island vineyards are located on the North and South Forks. Some of the vineyards can grow European varietal grapes, while others concentrate on hybrid grapes that are better-adapted to North American conditions of climate and pest resistance.[3]

News and media[edit]

Long Island is the home of several newspapers and radio stations. Newsday has one of the largest circulations of all U.S. daily newspapers. The Long Island Press is a weekly paper begun in 2003. There are a few specialty newspapers such as the Long Island Business News and there are several weeklies that cover smaller community news and current events in the Long Island Communities. News 12, owned and operated by Cablevision System Corp, is one of the primary Long Island TV cable news channels.


Tourism in the area is primarily focused on the summer season and on the East End, with visitors attracted by the natural environment, parks and beaches in Long Island.[citation needed] The North fork on the east end of Suffolk County is known for its fishing villages, tourist towns, ferries to Connecticut and its neighbors, and for the area's wineries. The South fork has similar tourist attractions including golf, equestrian, boating, surfing, and fine dining in the Hamptons and Montauk. Patchogue is also host to the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, which is also the official home theater of the Atlantic Wind Symphony.[2]

Sunrise in Quogue.

Villages are additional tourist destinations on the Island. Some tourism is local Long Islanders visiting nearby friendly villages.[citation needed] Examples of villages that attract surrounding communities include Huntington Village, Northport Village, Islip Hamlet, Port Jefferson Village, Sayville, and Cold Spring Harbor in Suffolk County.[citation needed] Roslyn Village, Great Neck, The City of Long Beach, The City of Glen Cove, Massapequa Park and Rockville Centre, Garden City are popular Nassau County Villages.[citation needed] The Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau provides information about tourism on Long Island.[3]

Other industries[edit]

Fishing continues to be an important industry, especially at Northport and Montauk.

Since World War II, Long Island has become increasingly suburban and, in some areas, fully urbanized. Levittown was only the first of many new suburbs, and businesses followed residential development eastward.

Long Island is home to the East Coast's largest industrial park, the Hauppauge Industrial Park. The park has over 1,300 companies, and employs over 55,000 Long Islanders. Companies in the park and abroad are represented by the Hauppauge Industrial Association.

A growing entertainment industry presence can also be found on the Island. Most recently producer Mitchell Kriegman established Wainscott Studios in Water Mill where the PBS children's show, “It's a Big Big World”, is shot.

Largest Employers[edit]

According to Newsday, the largest employers in Long Island, as of 2017, are:[4]

# Employer # of employees
1 Northwell Health 31,153
2 State of New York 20,304
3 Catholic Health Services of Long Island 17,000
4 Nassau County 16,784
5 US Federal Government 16,391
6 Suffolk County 11,075
7 Stop & Shop 8,100
8 Winthrop-University Hospital 7,700
9 Long Island Rail Road 6,960
10 Walmart 5,056
11 Town of Hempstead 4,550
12 Home Depot 4,361
13 CVS 3,983
14 Nassau Board of Cooperative Educational Services 3,755
15 King Kullen 3,649

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2017 the employment of Suffolk and Nassau counties in the following sectors was:[5]

Sector Nassau County Suffolk County Total Percent
Health care and social assistance 149,349 107,764 257,113 14.3%
Retail trade 92,484 90,881 183,365 10.2%
Local government 69,597 72,882 142,479 7.9%
Finance and insurance 81,354 58,030 139,384 7.7%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 71,148 66,618 137,766 7.7%
Real estate and rental and leasing 73,725 45,175 118,900 6.6%
Accommodation and food services 54,754 55,404 110,158 6.1%
Construction 42,483 64,781 107,264 6.0%
Other services (except government) 54,770 49,147 103,917 5.8%
Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services 45,394 54,894 100,288 5.6%
Manufacturing 19,623 56,521 76,144 4.2%
Wholesale trade 31,738 44,166 75,904 4.2%
Transportation and warehousing 25,260 25,577 50,837 2.8%
Educational services 32,207 18,225 50,432 2.8%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 21,334 20,695 42,029 2.3%
State government 4,879 21,281 26,160 1.5%
Information 13,058 10,352 23,410 1.3%
Management of companies and enterprises 11,527 9,740 21,267 1.2%
Federal civilian 5,287 11,214 16,501 0.9%
Utilities 4,422 1,038 5,460 0.3%
Military 2,559 2,549 5,108 0.3%
Farming 99 3,007 3,106 0.2%
Forestry, fishing, and related activities Not reported 1,556 1,556 0.1%
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction Not reported 714 714 0.0%
Total 908,475 892,211 1,800,686 100.0%

2008-2009 recession[edit]


  1. ^ "The Most Expensive Homes in America — Special Edition — Yahoo! Finance". Retrieved December 5, 2005.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Long Island's largest employers
  5. ^ Bureau of Economic Analysis: Total Full-Time and Part-Time Employment by NAICS Industry

See also[edit]