A help wanted sign advertised along E. Main Street in...

A help wanted sign advertised along E. Main Street in East Islip in February. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Long Island’s economy last month narrowed the gap in the number of jobs from pre-pandemic levels but has yet to catch up, state data shows.

The Island gained 33,100 jobs over the year in July, growing by 2.6%, according to state Labor Department data released Thursday. The number of jobs on the Island were 38,300, or 2.8%, below job counts in July 2019. 

At the start of the year, the Island was 50,600 – 3.8% – below pre-pandemic levels, according to state figures.

“This month’s report showed the region made significant progress in recouping the jobs lost during the pandemic,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst for the Labor Department’s Hicksville office.

Jobs added in July 2022 from July 2021:

Long Island - 33,100

New York State - 451,100

U.S. - 5.8 million 

LI sectors with most job growth over the year:

Leisure and hospitality - 8,900 jobs added

Professional and business services - 7,600 jobs added 

Trade, transportation, and utilities - 7,500 jobs added

The state gained 451,100 jobs over the year, a growth rate of 5%. The nation added more than 5.7 million jobs over the year in July, growing the job market by 4%.

John Rizzo, economist and professor at Stony Brook University said the Island's slower growth rate is the result of the region's already low unemployment rate and underlying economic strength compared to the state and nation.

"It’s a slow progression, but it’s promising," Rizzo said. 

In June, the Island had a jobless rate of 2.9%, compared to the state's 4.4% rate and the nation's unemployment rate of 3.6%, according to state and national Labor Department data.

“They’re catching up to Long Island in terms of lowering their unemployment," he said. 

Six of the nine private industries saw net job gains in July over the same month in 2021, including professional and business services, which added 7,600 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, which added 7,500; education and health services with a gain of 1,300 jobs; and information, which added 300 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality once again led the region as the sector with the highest number of jobs gained over the year, adding 8,900 positions in July.

“Employers in leisure and hospitality added jobs at a much faster clip than is typical for the month of July,” Patel said.

Much of that growth was in restaurants and bars, which added 1,000 jobs, compared with a typical loss of 200 seasonal positions. Overall employment in food and beverage businesses is 300 jobs, or 0.3%, above July 2019 levels.

On a month-over-month basis, the Island saw a loss of 10,200 jobs, though a seasonal decline like that is the norm for the month of July, Patel said. During the same month in 2021, the Island saw a decline of 13,600 jobs.

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