Indicators are facts that help show how a region is doing, the way the unemployment rate helps show the health of the economy. Measuring these kinds of data helps communities to identify existing conditions, measure progress toward goals and to mobilize action to improve the region.  The Long Island Index has been providing this data for ten years which allows residents, researchers, civic organizations and others to assess our change over time and evaluate our path for future action.

1

Economy

For most of the postwar period, Long Island’s economy was driven by two powerful engines – income flowing to commuters from jobs in Manhattan, and a large defense industry fueled by Washington DC.  Now, prosperity comes from many sources, and Long Island needs to look for more of its income to be generated from within its own boundaries.  
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2

Population

The Island today is a far more diverse place than either its past or current images portray. Along with the rest of America, this trend has been growing for decades. The pace of change, however, has been particularly rapid in the last 20 years.
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3

Housing

Long Island is falling behind its suburban neighbors in both the number of new homes and the variety of housing types being built.  This has serious implications for our younger generation looking for rentals, condos, or other non-single family homes and for any family looking for more affordable opportunities.
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4

Education

While Long Island schools do well on average, there are wide disparities among schools depending on the neighborhoods they serve.  Blacks and Hispanics are concentrated in high-poverty schools, perpetuating the economic disparities among racial and ethnic groups.
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5

Environment

Long Island’s sole source aquifer system provides the Island’s residents with 100% of their drinking water.  Both the quality and quantity of the water in this underground aquifer system is directly impacted by what we do on the surface. Currently, Long Island is experiencing a rapid rise in contaminants in our aquifer system.
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6

Open Space

Almost two-thirds of Long Island’s land surface is covered with buildings, pavement and other man-made structures.  In 2006, New York State set a goal of preserving 37,000 acres within 10 years’ time.  By 2010, only 18% of the target acreage has been preserved.
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7

Governance

More so than other regions, Long Island has unusually high numbers of governmental entities providing a range of local services.  Not only does this make governance more complicated, it also contributes to the high cost of living and doing business.
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8

Health

Health care continues to be a crucial issue for Long Islanders.  Ensuring that all residents, children and adult, have access to quality care that they can afford is an essential ingredient in the social fabric.  While the overall picture on average appears to be positive, that there are also significant signs of polarized inequality with respect to the health of our population and access to quality care.
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9

Transportation

Increased transit ridership helps reduce traffic congestion by taking motor vehicles off the road.  An efficient transit system can provide quicker access to jobs, reduce air pollution and help to improve the overall livability of our communities.   Yet while other suburban regions have been expanding their public transportation options including reverse commutes, Long Island has added no new capacity.
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10

Safety Net

For both individuals and for families, the experience of economic hardship places greater strains on the quality of life in many aspects.  The ability to obtain adequate shelter, nutrition, clothing and education are directly tied to one’s economic situation.  On Long Island, as in most areas of the country, there has been a steep rise in rates of poverty as well as number of families requiring Food Stamps.
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