The future of millennials in Nassau County is fraught due to a lack of affordability and a gap in economic development, according to a report from the county comptroller’s office.
Comptroller Jack Schnirman released his office’s report “This is Nassau: The Deal for the Next Generation” at a Next Gen forum on Aug. 6. Authored by the office’s Policy & Research Unit, the report examines the demographic effects of a fiscal state seen by millennials, whom the report identifies as those born between 1981 and 1996, as unviable.
While millennials make up a quarter of Nassau County’s population, according to the report, the presence of those aged 20-44 is rapidly dropping as millennials leave Long Island after college to settle down elsewhere.
“The Long Island region isn’t unique in the types of problems it is facing when it comes to the economic health of the next generation, but it is unique in the severity of those issues,” the report states.
Issues like increasing student loan debt, unaffordable housing and underemployment for the age 20-34 group are addressed in the report, issues that are familiar for Nassau residents like Michael Riscica of Manhasset.
Riscica, 25, graduated from Hofstra Universty in Hempstead in 2017 with a dual B.B.A./M.S., funded by his own money, support from his parents and scholarships. He saved money by commuting to school for four years. In between his initial graduation in June 2017 and his placement at his current job in November 2018, he says he worked multiple part-time jobs while searching for a full-time position in his field.
For millennials like Riscica, a 20-year Manhasset resident, the idea of renting an apartment or buying a house on the island seems impractical.
“If I were to search for a house or apartment, I’d probably look somewhere in New Jersey or even Westchester before Long Island,” Riscica said.
For now, Riscica lives with his parents, a familiar place for most aged 25-34 on the island, according to the report.
“For those age 25-34 who are staying on Long Island, they are increasingly living with their parents,” the report states. “According to the Office’s analysis, 44% of Long Islanders aged 25-34 live at home, while nationally, this figure is only 16%.”
Now employed as a staff associate in the insurance department of the New York City-based accounting firm Marcum LLC, Riscica says the report rings true to what he’s read and experienced since graduation.
“It echoes things that I’ve heard in the past few years about the difficulty in retaining young people in Nassau and Suffolk,” Riscica said.
At the forum where the report was released, Kyle Strober, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, said that it presented a “stark reality” for the next generation.
“Long Island is facing a potential demographic catastrophe, which will turn into economic crisis if corrective action isn’t taken soon,” Strober said.
The report also presents a series of measures to be taken to slow or reverse the negative growth, including creating ways to reduce the burden of student loan debt and increase financial aid, increasing access to affordable child care options, expanding public transportation to connect the north and south shores, and updating zoning codes to allow for more transit-oriented residential spaces, specifically around LIRR stations.
“For prior generations, the deal of living of Nassau County became an affordable option for young families with a quality of life based upon our schools, services, beaches, parks and access to New York City,” Schnirman said at the forum. “Working together, policymakers must recommit to making this deal work for the next generation of Nassau County residents.”
To Riscica, the plans are promising, but the current state of the island lacks something for the single person trying to start a life.
“Long Island is a great place for families,” Riscica said. “Not so much when you’re on your own.”