Long Island's employment growth picked up steam in September, when the Island had 9,100 more jobs than a year ago, the state Labor Department said Thursday.
But the increase was largely due to seasonal factors, and the report shows the region continues to grapple with a weak job market.
The September data look more robust in part because the private educational institutions surveyed for the report last year may have lacked a complete picture of their hiring increases at the time, the department said. That's because the school year started later because Labor Day fell later in the month. In the report, there were 5,200 more "educational services" jobs last month than the year before.
In September, government jobs continued to shrink from the year-earlier period. That sector had 2,000 fewer jobs, mostly because of continuing layoffs of village, town and county employees. And one of the Island's highest-paying industries, construction, was still bleeding jobs -- down 5,900, the biggest decline last month of any sector.
"Until we see some kind of turnaround in the construction sector, the growth in the labor market on Long Island is going to be subdued," said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.
The loss of construction jobs underscores how employment opportunities diminished for blue-collar workers, one local economist said.
In contrast, employment in the Island's highest-paying category, financial activities, continued to grow, with 4,000 more jobs in September than the year before. The average annual salary for jobs in the sector's finance and insurance subset is nearly $108,000.
"We're seeing an acceleration of the transition from a manufacturing/blue collar economy to an economy dominated by high-end services," said Pearl Kamer, chief economist of the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business group.
Janet Verneuille recently was hired as the chief financial officer of Empire National Bank in Islandia. Verneuille previously worked as the director of business operations for the Sag Habor School District, but has worked more than 20 years in banking. She believes being a certified public accountant gives her an edge in the job market.
"I'm glad that I have a tangible skill," she said. "I think that makes you more employable."
The Labor Department will release the September unemployment rate on Tuesday. The jobless rate jumped to 7.8 percent in August, from 7.0 percent a year earlier.