State: LI loses jobs for 5th straight month

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Long Island lost jobs for the fifth consecutive month in September, according to State Labor Department data released Thursday.

The Island had 12,800 fewer jobs in September than it did at the same time the year before. The private sector had 8,100 fewer jobs, and the public sector lost 4,700.

The department makes year-to-year comparisons because the data aren't seasonally adjusted. The latest loss was the second highest this year, after the 13,000 year-to-year loss in August.

Of the state's 12 metropolitan regions, only four lost jobs in September.

The losses on Long Island reflected a hit to the region's tourism industry and layoffs among teachers. Leisure and hospitality contracted by 5,500 jobs, the most of any category, the labor department said. And local-government education, including teachers and staff, declined by 5,300 jobs.

"So between the two of them, that explains most of the losses," said Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association.

She also noted the retail sector, which nationwide had stronger September sales than expected, declined by 1,300 jobs on Long Island.

"That means that employers are anticipating a recession, and they are trying to protect their bottom line by not hiring and doing more with less," said Kamer, who argues Long Island has yet to recover from the recession.

The Island now has 1.211 million jobs, compared with 1.223 million jobs a year earlier.

The local job market continues to take its toll on job seekers. Two of them were at the Labor Department's Hicksville office Thursday for job-search counseling.

Jericho resident Walter Girolamo, 49, a systems analyst whose last long-term position ended 21 months ago, said being a without full-time job was "an emotional roller coaster." He worked a seasonal holiday job last year and worked for the Census as well. He expressed hope, however, since in recent weeks, he's had several interviews.

"I've gone back to school to fill the gaps in professional certifications," Girolamo said.

Saltish Batra, 55, a Hicksville father of three who's been unemployed for 18 months, said his last long-term job was as a Subway restaurant manager. Batra worked one month as a manager at another fast-food chain, but was let go, he said, because the owners told him he was too old.

"I've been applying everywhere, customer service or any job," Batra said.

Thursday's report had some bright spots. The professional and business-services sector gained 2,300 jobs, the most of any category and its 14th straight month of gains, said Michael Crowell, senior economist in the Labor Department's Hicksville office.

The department will release unemployment data Tuesday.

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