Fewer LI jobs in October than year ago

People stand in line for a job fair

People stand in line for a job fair held by the Miami Marlins to fill over 2,000 positions in their new baseball stadium, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, in Miami. Over 1,000 people were in line when interviews began for jobs varying from managerial to event day positions. The new stadium opens in April 2012. (AP Photo/ Lynne Sladky) (Credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Long Island employment market continues to be weak and is now showing losses in an unusually broad range of jobs, according to state labor department data released Thursday.

The Island had 11,300 fewer jobs in October than it did in October 2010; it was the sixth consecutive month the local job market has shown year-over-year declines. The private sector had 8,300 fewer jobs, and the public sector was down by 3,000 jobs, largely due to layoffs in local public education. The Labor Department uses year-over-year data to factor out unusual seasonal swings.

"To see job declines when you are going into the holiday shopping season doesn't augur well for holiday sales," said Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association.

Just one major category gained jobs, revealing a broad display of job losses that last occurred in 2009, said Michael Crowell, senior economist in the labor department's Hicksville office. That positive category -- professional and business services -- added 1,800 jobs.

Some of the strongest employment growth came from collection agencies and repossession services, Crowell said. Those areas seem "to be growing at a healthy rate," he said.

Leisure and hospitality contracted the most -- 4,200 jobs in October -- compared with the year before.

A 100-job decline in educational and health services, which includes private institutions, was just the third drop in that category since 1991, according to the report. All three of those declines occurred in the past four months.

The Island now has 1.231 million jobs, versus 1.243 million the year before.

A decline in local leisure and hospitality spending has caused some local inns and bed-and-breakfasts to suffer a drop in bookings.

The Southampton Inn's bookings have declined about 20 percent in the last month, compared with a year ago, said owner Dede Gotthelf. Occupancy sporadically dips to as low 10 percent on some days, Gotthelf said.

"That is a number that we generally only see during a snowstorm in January," said Gotthelf, who has 25 year-round employees and is thinking of instituting some four-day workweeks.

Sylvia Daley, owner of Quintessentials, an East Marion bed-and-breakfast and spa, said that business fell off "abruptly" after mid-October because people are cutting back.

"They aren't booking so far in advance, and they are coming in for fewer nights," she said.

The labor department will publish the Island's October unemployment rate on Tuesday. It was 6.9 percent in September.

Separately Thursday the U.S. Department of Labor said new claims for jobless benefits in the nation hit a seven-month low last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to 388,000. Economists had forecast claims rising to 395,000. -- With Reuters

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