LI unemployment rate tumbles to 5.4 percent

Nassau County's jobless rate sank to 5.1 percent

Nassau County's jobless rate sank to 5.1 percent in November, while Suffolk's rate fell to 5.6 percent. Above, job seekers attend a career fair at the Cradle of Aviation in East Garden City in 2011. (Credit: Steve Pfost)

Long Island's unemployment rate in November tumbled 1.7 percentage points to 5.4 percent from the year-ago period when the region was still reeling from superstorm Sandy, according to preliminary state data.

The non-seasonally adjusted figures showed the region's largest November decline since 1991, said Shital Patel, a labor market analyst at the state Labor Department.

The impact of Sandy, which hit Long Island on Oct. 29, 2012, was shown starkly in coastal communities such as Long Beach, Lindenhurst Village and Freeport Village, which posted declines of 4.5, 3.6 and 3.1 percentage points in their jobless rates.


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Irwin Kellner, the Port Washington-based chief economist for MarketWatch, said Sandy had a multitiered impact on the numbers, increasing the number of people out of work in November 2012, but also boosting the number of construction jobs needed to rebuild in the current period.

"It will take a while before the effect -- pro and con -- of Sandy washes through the numbers," he said.

The November unemployment rate in Nassau County came in at 5.1 percent versus 7 percent in the year-ago period. Suffolk's rate was 5.6 percent, compared with 7.1 percent in 2012.

The overall figure for New York State was 6.9 percent, a decline of 1 percentage point from the prior year.

In November, Nassau had the third-lowest jobless rate in the state behind only Tompkins and Putnam counties at 4.4 and 5.0 percent. The county with the highest unemployment rate was the Bronx at 11.2 percent.

Patel said Long Island's numbers also were boosted on a month-over-month basis by strong seasonal hiring among retailers and delivery services.

In October, Long Island's unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent, the first time it pierced the 6 percent level in five years.

The area with the lowest jobless rate in Nassau was the Town of North Hempstead at 4.6 percent, followed by Rockville Centre at 4.7 percent. Suffolk municipalities with the fewest unemployed were the towns of Huntington and Smithtown, at 4.7 and 4.8 percent.

The areas with the highest unemployment were Hempstead Village in Nassau at 6.5 percent and the Village of Lindenhurst and the Town of Southampton in Suffolk, both at 6.3 percent.

There were 80,000 Long Islanders unemployed in November out of a labor force of 1.49 million. The statistics count only active job seekers among the unemployed and not those who are discouraged and have stopped searching.

The Labor Department numbers rely in part on a telephone survey of 3,100 of New York State's 7 million households.

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