The issues facing Long Island are significant.  Through our indicators, survey findings and special analyses, the Long Island Index provides data to measure the problem as well as compare ourselves to other suburban regions and, most significantly, to see what is working in other areas that could be tried here.


Long Island Losing Young People

From the first Long Island Index report in 2004, Long Islanders were vocal about their concern that young people were leaving the region in high numbers.  The demographics bear this out.  We have fewer young people than other neighboring suburban regions.  The solutions aren’t mysterious.  Young people need more jobs, for sure.  But they also need affordable places to live and downtowns that offer cultural and social options.  Long Island has the room to create these opportunities; we need the zoning laws to accommodate them and the community to embrace these changes.

Long Island: An Economic Powerhouse?

Long Island has the necessary assets which if properly managed could redefine the region into a major economic and innovation powerhouse. Long Island is at a tipping point where the region has the potential to become an innovation powerhouse, comparable to places like Silicon Valley, Research Triangle and San Diego -- but only if we use our assets wisely. 

Long Island’s Hundreds of Service Providers

More than most places, New York State has a patchwork quilt of governments providing services to taxpayers. Nowhere is this more obvious than on Long Island, with its 2 counties, 2 cities, 13 towns, 96 villages, and more than 120 school districts. In addition to these forms of local government, which most residents are familiar with, there are also library districts, fire districts and special districts providing services such as water, sewer and garbage pick-up. The impact of this structure is multi-faceted.  Most importantly, it contributes to higher taxes and creates a complex and inefficient government bureaucracy that makes it harder to move forward on other key issues impacting the region. 

Long Island’s Downtowns: an Untapped Regional Asset

Policy experts have long lamented Long Island’s single-family sprawl, noting its impact on housing costs, traffic, taxes, loss of open space, and environmental degradation. In the face of these threats to the region’s well-being, there was always a simple answer: this is what people want. If that once was true, a new Long Island Index study reveals, it is not true now. Most Long Islanders support developing our downtowns with more condominiums, townhouses, and rental apartments. One reason for many: it is where they want to live.

Open Space Dwindling Despite Plans to Save It

Repeatedly Long Islanders vote to support measures to preserve open space yet our efforts to date haven’t put us on the road to achieve our long-term goal of preserving one-tenth of our land mass before final build-out.  

Affordable Housing

Surprising to most Long Islanders, our neighboring suburban regions don’t have the same worries and concerns that we have. They are less worried about young people leaving and less concerned about the lack of affordable housing than we are. Why? They have taken on building multi-family homes in downtown areas at a faster pace than we have. Long Island is putting itself at a significant disadvantage for the future.

School Segregation in Long Island Suburbs

While many Long Island schools are known for their excellence, it is equally true that with our unusually high number of school districts, we are also known for having among the most segregated schools in the nation.  The impact is felt on many levels: districts have differing access to tax revenue and poorer schools struggle to meet the needs of their students.  Yet wealthier districts are able to provide a rich array of services and academic opportunities to their students.  By not addressing the needs of all students, Long Island has a spotty record on meeting our goal of educating the next generation of young people.

Property Taxes Grow Twice as Fast as Inflation

Consistently Long Islanders rate their high taxes as the biggest problem facing the region.  No wonder.  We have some of the highest property taxes in the country.  Depending on where you live there can be as many as nine different entities responsible for different portions of your tax levy.  Understanding who makes these decisions and which taxes have grown the most compared to inflation is a complex undertaking but critical to trying to turn the tide on this problem.

Healthcare Opportunities Vary Tremendously on Long Island

Examining several facets of healthcare on Long Island, including how people pay for medical attention, measures of maternal and perinatal health and risk factors, and indicators of hospitalizations for preventable or treatable conditions, suggests that while the overall picture on average appears to be positive, there are also significant signs of polarized inequality with respect to the health of our population and access to quality care.