Long Island's unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in October, from 6.8 percent a year ago, the state Labor Department said Tuesday.

The stubbornly high rate has risen every month since April and hasn't dipped below 6 percent since 2008.

The rate's rise reflects, in part, continued tepid job growth. Last week the department reported that Long Island's economy had just 6,500 more jobs in October than the year before.

The higher jobless rate also indicates that more of the unemployed have resumed their job search and thus are included in jobless data, local economists said. Those re-entries helped to swell the ranks of the jobless to 106,000 in October, up 7,100 from a year earlier.

Discouraged workers -- unemployed people who abandon their job search -- are excluded from unemployment data.

The re-entrants have found the job market challenging.

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"We have more people re-entering the job market, and there are not enough jobs to accommodate them," said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.

Some of the long-term unemployed have kept up their job hunt despite disappointments.

Oakdale resident Alan Streisfeld has been searching for a regular, full-time job since March 2010, when he was laid off from an accounts-receivable management job after the Central Islip picture frame company that employed him lost a big contract.

Despite the stiff competition, Streisfeld, 58, who has worked at various accountants-receivable jobs for 30 years, wants similar employment.

"That's where I have all my experience," he said.

He says his age works against him. So he dyed his hair and shaved off his mustache to look younger. But still no luck. And now he worries about the growing gap on his resume.

"That's a negative," he said.

A local economist doesn't see the job market bouncing back without more federal government stimulus money. State and local governments are too cash strapped to invest in much-needed infrastructure improvements that could produce jobs, said Martin Melkonian, economics professor at Hofstra University in Hempstead.

"At the state and local level the money isn't there," he said. "They are under tremendous pressure to cut back further."

New York State's unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in October, compared with 7.5 percent for the nation. None of the rates are seasonally adjusted.