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Long Island jobless rate dropped from 13.8% in July to 10.5% in August

Workers at a New York Department of Labor

Workers at a New York Department of Labor office in Albany answer calls from residents seeking jobless benefits. Credit: NYS Department of Labor

Long Island’s unemployment rate declined last month to 10.5%, the lowest rate the region has reported since the pandemic began, state data released Tuesday shows.

The jobless rate in Nassau and Suffolk counties fell by 3.3 percentage points in August from 13.8% in July, according to the state Labor Department. While the recent rate is the lowest monthly rate since April’s record high of 16.1%, the rate remains stubbornly high.

During the same month in 2019, Long Island’s jobless rate stood at 3.9%

The state, too, saw a drop in its unemployment rate, declining to 12.6% from 16% in July. The national jobless rate is 8.5%.

Long Island’s unemployment rate has gone up and down on a month-to-month basis since the crisis began, while the national rate has seen steady declines.

Still, Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the Labor Department's Hicksville office, said Long Island’s numbers follow the general trend of declines in joblessness.

"Despite some fluctuations in the unemployment rate over the past several months, the overall decline in unemployment from its peak in April to August has mirrored the decline in the national unemployment rate," Patel said.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group, said part of the reason the Long Island unemployment rate has remained higher than the national average is that New York was hit early and hard by the virus.

"You have to remember we got hit really hard, really early," Rizzo said. "New York’s response was to shut things down and get control over the coronavirus."

In light of those challenges, Rizzo said the fact that the state’s jobless rate has followed an overall recovery trend seen in the national unemployment rate numbers shows that a "gradual and careful reopening of the economy, paying attention to the impacts of the coronavirus, is the best way to go."

"We’ve really closed the gap," he said. "Going forward I know that New York State is going to keep on top of the coronavirus. I’m not convinced that a number of other states will."

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