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Weiner touts jobs bill on Austin Street

For Michael Jaye, a manager at Forest Hills’ New York Diamond Boutique, a $15 billion jobs bill passed by Congress has prompted him to hire two new people for his shop on Austin Street — a feat in an economy that has struck some locally owned Queens shops hard.

“It really stimulates our ability to hire,” Jaye said of the legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

Both the U.S. Senate and House have approved the bill that will give a $1,000 tax credit to businesses who hire workers. The House’s bill is slightly different from the legislation the Senate passed last month, and the Senate will hold another vote on the bill before President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

“It’s great to have the tax credit,” Jaye said. “It’s one of the reasons we’re looking to hire.”

Weiner toured several businesses on Austin Street in Forest Hills Monday to gauge how they are faring in the economy and discuss the HIRE Act, short for Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment, which would eliminate 2010 payroll taxes for every unemployed worker hired and give further tax credits if the employees are kept on for more than a year.

The Forest Hills congressman said it is especially important to focus on job creation in places like Queens because “nearly 70 percent of jobs created in New York are not created in the gleaming glass stores of Manhattan but in the mom-and-pop stores in the five boroughs.”

Shop owners and employees gave varied answers when asked how they are doing financially, with the owner of a handmade jewelry store saying this year has been one of the worst and a secondhand shop owner saying the sour economy has actually brought him more customers.

“Business is awful, really awful,” said Marie Sinanian, who has co-owned Stoa Jewelry for 43 years. “It’s worse than last year.”

Sinanian said the escalating cost of rent combined with aggressive parking officers are especially problematic.

“There is a horrendous parking problem here,” Sinanian said. “People have told me they’ve made a vow not to come to Austin Street.”

But Marc Pine, the owner of Instant Replay, said his 33-year-old secondhand store has actually fared better in recent months because financially strapped customers have come to his shop to find bargains on items like clothes and jewelry.

“The recession has been good for us %u2026 but I know times have been tough on most businesses around here,” Pine said.

Pine reiterated Jaye’s sentiment that the jobs bill could give a boost to local stores.

The owner of Dmitry Italian Silk Ties said they have seen sales decline more than 50 percent this season and have especially been affected by empty stores in the area.

“Compared to a year ago, there’s been a slowdown,” said Dmitry, who declined to give his last name. “What’s helping us is Internet sales, since we sell our ties online.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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