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Finance, health care helped LI economy expand in 2019, data shows

The finance and health care sectors helped grow

The finance and health care sectors helped grow Long Island's economy in 2019. Seen here, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital employees in 2018. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Long Island’s economy grew modestly last year, powered by the expanding financial services and health care sectors, according to data released Wednesday.

Nassau County’s gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced, totaled $84.58 billion in 2019, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. That’s a 1.2% increase over 2018.

Suffolk County’s GDP totaled $82.54 billion last year, up 0.9% from 2018.

Nassau and Suffolk ranked 54th and 55th among the state’s 62 counties in terms of economic growth. Upstate Hamilton and Delaware counties had the highest percentage growth between 2018 and last year, though their economies are much smaller, according to the bureau.

"The relatively low GDP growth rate on Long Island in 2019 likely reflects that the region was at full employment for an extended period of time, so further growth would naturally be more difficult," said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group and a Stony Brook University professor.

Among the state's counties, Nassau ranked No. 4 behind Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn in terms of size of the economy. Suffolk was No. 5.

Rizzo said the new data, while interesting, doesn’t help in predicting how and when the Long Island economy will recover from the coronavirus-induced recession.

"Things have changed so much in the past year that 2019 data don’t provide a lot of insight into Long Island’s economic outlook," he said on Wednesday. "What I can say is that the economy was quite strong going into the pandemic, which should help the recovery commencing in 2021."

GDP for New York State totaled $1.49 trillion last year, up 1.6% from 2018. National GDP totaled $19.10 trillion, an increase of 2.2%, year over year.

The bureau also has revised its 2018 data, so Nassau’s economy remains slightly larger than Suffolk’s.

A year ago, the preliminary estimates of GDP gave Suffolk the edge over Nassau for the first time. The bureau has countywide GDP data going back to 2001 but only began releasing the data three years ago.

In Nassau, the financial services and health care sectors grew the most in 2019 while wholesale trade and durable-goods manufacturing shrank, year over year. In Suffolk, the growth leaders were health care and professional and business services while wholesale trade and utilities contracted.

THE SIZE OF LI'S ECONOMY

Nassau County's GDP in 2019: $84.58 billion

Suffolk County's GDP in 2019: $82.54 billion

Total: $167 billion

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

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