Long Island’s union membership

Union membership on Long Island stands below the level from before the Great Recession, with a falloff of younger workers seen as contributing to the situation, according to a report from Hofstra University. This chart and table detail estimates of membership by age — with declines in the three youngest groups — and the chart and table below show estimates for the overall trends. Read more about the union membership report.

2004-6 Employment Members Rate
16-24 157,906 14,237 9
25-34 230,428 64,088 27.8
35-44 340,900 93,833 27.5
45-54 291,311 83,346 28.6
55-64 172,254 53,776 31.2
65 & up 63,320 8,170 12.9
Total 1,256,119 317,450 25.3
16-24 160,485 13,401 8.4
25-34 227,269 58,276 25.6
35-44 309,085 78,374 25.4
45-54 302,103 93,701 31
55-64 186,100 48,187 25.9
65 & up 48,267 8,985 18.6
Total 1,233,310 300,924 24.4
2014-16 Employment Members Rate
16-24 142,359 13,997 9.8
25-34 198,722 48,314 24.3
35-44 274,261 81,195 29.6
45-54 299,631 90,881 30.3
55-64 246,470 53,867 21.9
65 & up 76,063 14,614 19.2
Total 1,237,506 302,868 24.5

Overall union membership

Total union membership, broken down between public and private sector on Long Island, in New York City, and nationwide. Each bar represents the total for the combination of private and public sector members. For details, click on either segment of a bar.

Long Island 2004 – 2006 2008 – 2010 2014 – 2016
Total 317,450 300,924 302,868
   Public sector 190,834 180,555 168,274
   Private sector 126,617 115,756 134,594
Total employment (in thousands) 1,256 1,233 1,237
Union as % of total employment 25% 24% 24%
New York City 2004 – 2006 2008 – 2010 2014 – 2016
Total 856,334 800,884 875,985
   Public sector 352,926 366,040 335,306
   Private sector 503,408 427,894 540,679
Total employment (in thousands) 3,185 3,338 3,532
Union as % of total employment 27% 24% 25%
Nationwide 2004 – 2006 2008 – 2010 2014 – 2016
Union Members/employment (estimated) 2004 – 2006 2008 – 2010 2014 – 2016
Total (in thousands) 15,505 15,379 14,605
   Public sector 7,358 7,783 7,187
   Private sector 8,146 7,595 7,448
Total employment (in thousands) 125,893 125,980 133,785
Union as % of total employment 12% 12% 11%

Source: “The State of New York Unions 2017” Hofstra University’s Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy. Charts built using amCharts; tables using Tableizer.

Inside the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force

The nondescript office building in Melville could easily pass for an insurance company.

It’s the command center for the federal task force leading Long Island’s fight against street gangs, most notably MS-13, the criminal organization accused of dozens of vicious killings in Suffolk and Nassau.

Geraldine Hart, the 21-year FBI veteran who leads the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, said when it comes to MS-13 the bureau’s chief target is the 200 hard-core members of the gang at large on Long Island. But the task force also focuses on other violent street gangs operating on the Island, such as the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings.

“We deal with the worst of the worst,” said Hart, who also is the chief FBI supervisor on the Island. The task force focuses on made — or, as they are known within MS-13, “jumped in” — members of the gang, not “kids [who] can make gang signs,” she said.

We deal with the worst of the worst.

FBI Senior Supervisory Special Agent Geraldine Hart. Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr.

President Donald Trump, who has linked gang violence with illegal immigration, visited Brentwood in July and spoke about needing to “liberate” towns on Long Island from the scourge of the gang. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Long Island and pledged “to demolish” MS-13.

Sources say there have been at one time or another at least 11 different MS-13 chapters active on Long Island. Most of its members hail from El Salvador and other Central American countries.

And there is new information that MS-13’s leadership in El Salvador is now once again attempting to centralize its control over all the Long Island chapters, the sources said.

Inside the Melville offices there are 33 investigators and crime analysts who make up the task force — equally divided between FBI agents and crime analysts and their counterparts in 10 other law enforcement organizations, including Nassau and Suffolk county police.

Hart, bureau officials and agents, including Michael McGarrity, the head of the FBI’s overall criminal division for the New York area, agreed to talk about the work of the gang task force in general terms. They declined to talk about current cases or investigations, such as the recent arrest of the MS-13 members in the killings of the two Brentwood teenage girls or four young men in Central Islip.

Since 2010, there have been charges filed against defendants in 40 gang-related homicides in Suffolk and Nassau as a result of the work of the task force, according to FBI figures. And of the 17 MS-13-related homicides in Suffolk since 2016, nine of them so far were solved by task force investigators, the FBI says.

Since its establishment in 2003, the task force has made 1,190 arrests, including 280 members of MS-13, of whom 30 were top leaders of chapters, according to FBI statistics. Most arrests have resulted in successful prosecutions on charges including murder, attempted murder and assault in federal court in Central Islip. Prosecutors in the office of Acting Eastern District U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde work closely with the task force in developing cases, officials say.

The task force also gets regular input from other investigators not stationed at the Melville office, and other police departments on Long Island that could help them identify a pattern — such as the arrest of a suspected gang member at a particular location — that might lead to other arrests or a better understanding of an MS-13 chapter or hierarchy.

McGarrity and Hart say that the task force uses the same “enterprise theory” in dealing with gangs that the FBI has used on traditional organized crime: Each chapter is a single organization or enterprise, all of whose members are involved and which should be completely eliminated, member by member.

Hart is more than familiar with the enterprise theory; she led the FBI’s New York squads investigating the Genovese, Bonnano and Colombo organized crime families.

Working in collaboration with local police and others that may have gang information but not the resources or the time to deal with gang activity, the FBI can bring its greater resources to bear on all the members of a chapter, McGarrity said.

Those resources include a network of FBI agents in other MS-13 hot spots such as the Washington, D.C. suburbs, Boston, and Los Angeles, as well as about a half-dozen FBI agents permanently stationed in El Salvador working with Salvadorean law enforcement officials on the gang and sharing information with the task force on Long Island.

Further bolstering the work of the task force are federal criminal laws such as Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) that provides for more penalties and allow prosecutors to charge criminal elements with a broader range of crimes.

“The latest surge in MS-13 criminal activity is being met head-on and has resulted in significant racketeering charges, due in large part to the collective experience our office and task force members have developed,” Rohde said.

And the FBI has deep financial resources allowing for significant payments for informants, as well as for overtime pay for local law enforcement officers.

A key element in the gang fight is the ability to place cooperators in the federal witness protection program.

For example, in the case of the MS-13 members who in 2010 murdered 2-year-old Diego Torres and his mother, Vanessa Argueta — because she showed disrespect to the gang — a key informant and gang associate, Carla Santos, was placed in the witness program. She testified in 2013 in federal court against one of the killers and was guarded by federal marshals from the program, according to court records. The defendant was convicted of murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison plus 35.

And another of the killers convicted in the case, Argueta’s former boyfriend, Juan Garcia, was captured in 2014 in Central America, a day after he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and a $100,000 reward was offered for his arrest.

But McGarrity and Hart stressed that the unstinting cooperation between the FBI and the local Long Island police forces and other agencies is vital to the task force’s work.

Raid breaks up meeting

Soon after its establishment in 2003, the task force had a big win. At dusk on Oct. 10, 2004, as an FBI surveillance plane circled overhead, 50 heavily armed agents stormed a three-story building at 25 Montague Place in Brooklyn, hurling six flash-bang grenades to break up a planned secret meeting of the heads and other members of the Long Island chapters of the MS-13 street gang called by the leadership in El Salvador.

An infrared film of the event recorded from the plane shows gang members tossing guns out windows and unsuccessfully attempting to evade capture by fleeing from the building’s roof to adjoining rooftops. In all, 16 members of the gang, were arrested without incident at the building and in follow-up raids in the following days. The raid resulted in convictions in several murders as well as other violent crimes, according to officials and court records.

The raid also resulted in quashing — to this day — the effort by the gang’s central leadership in El Salvador to coordinate the activities of its Long Island chapters, say sources familiar with the results of the raid.

Three of those arrested had been in direct contact with the leadership in El Salvador, which ordered the LI chapters to unite and follow the Central American leadership, the sources said. A more centralized, Central-American-based control of MS-13’s cliques in an area is more typical of the gang structure in Los Angeles, the Washington suburbs, and the Boston area, the sources said.

Most recently the task force’s work in the face of the latest surge in violence by MS-13 has resulted in the arrests of gang members accused in: the killings of two teenage girls who attended Brentwood High School and the slayings of four young men in a Central Islip park.

In March, six months after the September killings of the Brentwood teenage girls — Kayla Cuevas, 16, and Nisa Mickens, 15 — the task force’s work resulted in the arrests of a half-dozen members of MS-13 in the slayings. Gang members believed Cuevas had disrespected them, while Mickens had been assaulted while walking down a street with her friend, officials said. More than a half-dozen members of the MS-13 street gang “whose primary mission is murder” were indicted in the killings, officials said.

In July, four months after the April slayings in a Central Islip park of four young men, the task force arrested and charged about a dozen defendants the in the slayings of Justin Llivicura, 16, of East Patchogue; Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport; Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, of Brentwood; and Jefferson Villalobos, 18, of Pompano Beach, Florida, who was on Long Island visiting his cousin Banegas at the time, officials have said. MS-13 members believe some of the four had disrespected the gang and were believed to be members of a rival gang, authorities have said.

Specific skills are key

While many investigators on the task might be involved in providing information on a case, a four-member team — two FBI agents and two other investigators — is typically responsible for investigating one particular case, Hart says.

The FBI supervisor in the task force’s early days, Robert Hart — no relation to Geraldine Hart — who is now an assistant Nassau County Police Commissioner, said the FBI selected for the task force agents who speak Spanish, have the ability to get along with people with a special sensitivity, and those with an understanding of the Salvadorean culture and MS-13 structure and habits.

It was not unusual, for example, for an agent to help getting a suspect to cooperate by buying a suspect pupusas, the corn tortilla filled with cheese or beans or pork that is a staple of El Salvadorean cuisine, according to a source.

Also helping drive the work of the task force is what investigators see as the unrestrained brutality of MS-13.

FBI agent Ed Heslin, a Spanish-speaking former immigration lawyer, said that even after serving as an investigator with the bureau in Afghanistan, “I was shocked” by the close-up violence of MS-13 members on Long Island.

In Afghanistan, the killing was at a distance: “Not personal” involving “somebody with an IED,” Heslin said.

But to the MS-13, “It’s close up and personal,” where victims are attacked face-to-face with machetes and knives and bats.

Hart found it “shocking to me” that the gang would murder a 2-year-old.
As someone who was raised on Long Island, Hart said she finds it “very satisfying … to have some input in diminishing these gangs.”

Hart says that there is “an ebb and flow” to MS-13’s notoriety and visible presence on Long Island. The task force would typically arrest and prosecutors convict the major MS-13 members on Long Island, but several years later the gang’s cliques would resurface with newer members from Central America.

Experts who study MS-13 say this ebb and flow reflects both downturns in El Salvador economy, making the United State an attractive place for people to seek work, as well as the waxing and waning of the violent wars between criminal gangs and the military and police in El Salvador.

Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal division, and now head of the Law Enforcement Criminal Defense Fund, said law enforcement alone cannot permanently stamp out MS-13; they will persist until the financial and immigration issues involving El Salvador are solved.

But whatever the overall solution, Hart says, when it comes to stopping MS-13 violence and arresting those who commit the gang’s brutal crimes.: “We don’t go away … We are never going to stop. We always have and will always be doing cases.”

Sample Article with list element

Long Island in 1790 was populated by about 1 percent of the people who live here today; with a relatively equal number of men and women and about 2,000 slaves.

That’s the picture painted by America’s first Census, collected after President George Washington signed the 1790 Census Act so the government could learn “the aggregate amount of each description of persons” to be able to form a representative government, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Aug. 2, 1790, was the official “Census Day” and the process was to be led by then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

In honor of the 227th anniversary of America’s first Census, here’s a look at Long Island’s population in 1790.

Scenes from Long Island in the 1800s. Photo credits from top left, clockwise: East Williston Village Historian; Nassau County Museum Collection; Nassau County Museum; Unknown.

Boys in a barn in Old Westbury circa 1890.

The geography of 1790

In 1790, Brooklyn and Queens were still considered part of Long Island. Nassau County did not yet officially exist; the towns of North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and South Hempstead were part of Queens County. Suffolk County was made up of eight towns; what was the Town of Huntington then also included the current Town of Babylon, and what was the Town of Southold then included what is now the Town of Riverhead.

Long Island map from approximately 1780. Credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections

The numbers highlighted here, unless otherwise noted, represent statistics from Suffolk County and the three towns that would become Nassau County — so these are the 1790 totals for the area making up modern day Long Island.

The findings

The Census sought information on just five categories:

  • Free white males over 16 (for possible industrial and military potential)
  • Free white males under 16
  • Free white females (including heads of households)
  • All other free persons (including free blacks and Indians)
  • Slaves.
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    • Donec velit neque, auctor sit amet aliquam vel, ullamcorper sit amet ligula.
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In 1790, Long Island’s total population was 27,061. By comparison, the 2010 census estimate placed LI’s population at about 3 million — just under the population of the entire United States in 1790.

Broken down by county, the three areas that currently make up Nassau County had 10,621 people, and Suffolk County had 16,440.

Nassau’s most populated area was Oyster Bay, with 4,097 people, and its least-populated area was North Hempstead, with 2,696. Suffolk’s most populated area was Southampton, with 3,408 people, and its least-populated area was Shelter Island, with just 201 people.

Here are the islandwide totals for the six categories in the Census:


Total population


Free white males older than 16


Free white males younger than 16


Free white females


All other free persons



Each white family in Suffolk County had an average of 5.1 members; in Queens County (including modern-day Nassau), there were 5.7 members.

Roughly 17.1 percent of Suffolk households reported holding slaves; in Queens County that number was 34.6 percent, and in Kings County (Brooklyn), the number was 61.1 percent.

Slaves on LI

The Census found that New York was the largest slave-holding state in the north, with 21,324. In comparison, the largest slave-holding state in the south was Virginia, with 292,627, more than 13 times as many.

There were 2,312 slaves on Long Island, roughly 8.5 percent of the total population.

According to the Census, the largest slaveholder in Suffolk County was William Floyd of Mastic, who had 14, and the largest slaveholder in what would become Nassau County was Samuel Martin of South Hempstead, who had 17.

The William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach. Credit: Newsday/ Michael E. Ach


Though the Census solicited no information about ethnic background, the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research analyzed the surnames of the white population in 1790 to create a likely ethnic breakdown of national backgrounds. (Their analysis is for Suffolk County and all of Queens County — all of modern-day Nassau County and all of modern-day Queens).

They found that nearly three quarters of the population — 73.2 percent — was likely either English or Welsh. The next biggest group was slaves, at 10.5 percent, and 7.4 percent of people were Dutch.

Heads of household

Scroll through and zoom in on the full Census document below to see which last names populated Long Island in 1790.

360 View: A summer day at Jones Beach

360 view: A summer day at Jones Beach

Watch as a Jones Beach lifeguard walks us through a day at the beach.

Alt Video TextPlay 360° Video

On Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, Jones Beach Field 6 lifeguard captain Donald Kramer walked us through what a day is like at the beach, what he has to watch for in order to keep swimmers safe and how much fun it is to work at the beach. Many lifeguards, he said, consider it the best job they’ve ever had. (Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware)

Note: On mobile devices, the 360-degree video experience can be viewed only in the YouTube app.