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LI jobless rate crept up to 5.5% in December as the labor force grew

December's 5.5% jobless rate is still far above

December's 5.5% jobless rate is still far above the 3.6% of December 2019. Above, a stroller in Manhattan this week. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/ANGELA WEISS

Long Island’s unemployment rate remained largely unchanged in December from the previous month, still much higher than it was a year ago, state data show.

The Island’s unemployment rate inched up to 5.5% last month, or 0.1 percentage points above the 5.4% jobless rate reported in November, according to a Tuesday release from the state Labor Department. While the jobless rate across the region is down dramatically from the 16.1% high of April, early in the pandemic, it was still far above the 3.6% of December 2019.

The region’s labor force, the sum of all Islanders who are employed and those unemployed but actively job hunting, grew by 3,500 last month, including 1,100 more employed and 2,400 more unemployed.

"This month’s data, which is not seasonally adjusted, showed a small increase in the region’s labor force from November as more residents found employment and some workers formerly on the sidelines reentered the job market," said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.

Both Nassau and Suffolk counties’ jobless rates were 5.5% in December, unchanged from the previous month in Nassau’s case, and up 0.2 percentage points for Suffolk.

The Island’s jobless rate remains well below that of New York City and the state overall, which reported unemployment rates of 11% and 8.1%, respectively.

Across the Island, the municipality with the highest unemployment rate last month was Hempstead Village at 9.1%. The jurisdiction with the lowest rate was the Town of Smithtown at 4.4%.

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