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Long Island's unemployment rate grew to 6.7% last month

Even with February's slight rise, the rate remains

Even with February's slight rise, the rate remains largely in line with seasonal trends, a labor department analyst said. Credit: Charles Eckert

Long Island’s jobless rate ticked up slightly to 6.7% in February but remained largely in line with the previous month’s rate, the state Labor Department reported Tuesday.

The Island’s unemployment rate was 6.4% in January.

The January and February numbers appear to represent a brief pause in the region’s economic recovery efforts, said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.

While the jobless rate is far lower than it was earlier in the pandemic, the recent monthly rate is 2.8 percentage points higher than the same month in 2020. At the height of pandemic-induced layoffs, in April, the Island’s jobless rate hit 17.5%, the highest monthly rate on record.

Even with February's slight rise, the rate remains largely in line with seasonal trends, said Patel.

"Month over month, the labor force was down 7,900 jobs, which is the typical decline between January and February," she said. "Although Long Island’s unemployment rate remains 2.8 percentage points above year-ago levels, it represents a significant improvement from the height of the pandemic in April."

Patel said, "The improvement in labor market conditions was in a holding pattern in February as many parts of the economy were still operating at a reduced capacity."

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group, said that as the vaccine rollout in the state has ramped up since last month and as the warmer months approach, it’s likely the region will start to see more robust job growth.

"Clearly the unemployment rate remains elevated well above last year’s levels," Rizzo said. "February is going to be a different story than April. March will be in the middle."

Last month, Nassau’s jobless rate rose to 6.6% from 6.3% in January, and Suffolk’s rate rose to 6.8% from 6.4% at the start of the year.

Long Island’s jobless rate came in much lower than neighboring New York City, which posted a jobless rate of 13.2% in February.

On the Island, the municipalities with the highest and lowest unemployment rates were Hempstead Village at 10.1%, and Smithtown at 5.4%.

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