The Long Island economy had 27,100 more jobs in August compared with the year before, the strongest showing since April, data released Thursday by the state Labor Department show.
The private sector had 28,500 more jobs, its biggest increase since May. But the government sector had 1,400 fewer jobs year over year, cutting overall job growth to 27,100. Long Island now has 1.29 million jobs, compared with 1.26 million jobs a year ago. The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren't adjusted to reflect seasonal swings in employment.
For the second consecutive month, the professional and business-services sector had the biggest increase -- 7,500 jobs -- compared with a year earlier. That category includes lawyers, accountants and management-support staff.
Manufacturing posted the biggest decline, with 2,300 fewer jobs. The construction sector, noted for its high-wage jobs, had its biggest increase so far this year -- 4,700 jobs. It continues to get a boost from superstorm Sandy rebuilding and from mall expansions and downtown renovations, said James Brown, principal economist in the Labor Department's Manhattan office.
"It has started to grow again," Brown said, "and often after a turnaround, growth accelerates as you catch up with some of the pent-up demand."
Still, news of local employment increases "needs to be tempered" because growth in lower-wage sectors such as retail and leisure and hospitality continues to outpace growth in higher-paying jobs, said economist Gregory DeFreitas, who heads Hofstra University's labor studies program.
In this recovering job market, many laid-off workers have found it difficult to obtain jobs that match their previous salaries.
Massapequa resident Owen Cumisky, 51, lost his six-figure job as the Northeast account manager for a paper manufacturer in 2008. Three years later, with the help of a friend, he found a job as a sales rep at a local bank, where he makes about a third of what he previously earned. In the intervening years, he said, he "decimated" his 401(k) to support his family. He is hoping to rebuild his house, which superstorm Sandy destroyed.
"I remained optimistic that I would find a job, and now we are in a fight just to stay afloat," said Cumisky, who is married and has two teenage sons.
The Labor Department will release the August unemployment rate on Tuesday. The Island's jobless rate was 6.2 percent in July, down significantly from 7.8 percent a year earlier.
Biggest job gainers and losers
7,500: Professional and business services
6,700: Trade, transportation and utilities (includes retail)
Source: New York State Labor Department