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On LI and across country, new weekly unemployment claims fall

A man peers into an employment agency in

A man peers into an employment agency in Manchester, N.H. Credit: AP/Charles Krupa

The number of people seeking unemployment aid nationwide fell sharply last week to 684,000, the fewest since the pandemic erupted, and Long Island jobless claims saw a similar decline.

Thursday’s report from the U.S. Labor Department showed that new jobless claims fell from 781,000 the week before. It is the first time that weekly applications for jobless aid have fallen below 700,000 since mid-March of last year. Before the pandemic tore through the economy, applications had never hit that level.

On the Island, the number of people filing new claims for unemployment fell last week by more than 11%, to 5,516.

While still historically high, the number of those seeking aid locally last week was well below the 7,761 Islanders who filed during the same week in 2020, as the pandemic began.

Nationwide, the number of people seeking benefits under a federal program for self-employed and contract workers also dropped, to 241,000, from 284,000 a week earlier. All told, the number of applicants fell below 1 million for the first time since the pandemic began throttling the economy.

LI jobs decline

Also Thursday, New York reported that Long Island had 120,600 fewer jobs in February than it did the same month last year.

The number of jobs on the Island was down by 9.1% last month from a year earlier, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

On a month-over-month basis, the Island’s economy netted 1,400 new jobs, below the average gain of 2,400 jobs, a further indication that the Island’s jobs recovery has slowed. In the month of June, for example, the Island added 62,000 jobs on a month-over-month basis, as the Island underwent its phased reopening after the government-mandated shutdown.

Many sectors hit

All nine of the major private sectors lost jobs on a year-over-year basis, with leisure and hospitality losing the most – 29,400 jobs – and the information sector losing the least – 2,200.

Despite the broad losses annually, some subsectors of employment, like health care, added more jobs than normal on a monthly basis in February.

"Employment in the health care industry, which has suffered as fewer people sought out elective procedures, is rebounding," said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. "Employment increased by 2,600 in February compared to an average of 300. Employment at the region’s hospitals are above year-ago levels."

A total of 18.9 million people continue to collect jobless benefits, up from 18.2 million in the previous week. Roughly one-third of those recipients are in extended federal aid programs, which means they've been unemployed for at least six months.

Their prolonged joblessness could prove to be a long-term hindrance to recovery: Typically, people who have been unemployed for extended periods struggle to find work even as the economy regains its health. With the AP

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