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LI sees bump in monthly job creation, but growth remains slow

Long Island added 18,000 jobs from September to

Long Island added 18,000 jobs from September to October; above, a North Babylon business this week. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Long Island, like the rest of the state, saw continued job growth last month, though the speed of Nassau and Suffolk counties’ recovery has trailed the state and nation over the last year, state data shows.

The Island’s economy added 18,000 jobs from September to October, according to state Labor Department data released Thursday. Despite that month-over-month uptick, however, Long Island’s year-over-year job growth rate – 1.4% – was less than half of the state’s 3.3% or the nation’s 3.9% rates.

John Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group, said he attributes the Island’s slower growth to what he called "the ceiling effect," suggesting that it’s due to Long Island already being "closer to full employment."

In September, the latest month such data is available, the Island’s jobless rate stood at 4.2%, lower than the nation’s 4.6% and the state’s 6.3% jobless rate.

Economists consider a jobless rate of 4% or below to be full employment.

Additionally, Rizzo said several other factors, including limited access to child care, health concerns, and a greater desire from workers to hold out for remote work opportunities are also contributing to the Island and state’s slow growth.

"All of those things are constraining the return of the labor force," he said.

State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon echoed many of those points in discussing the state’s jobs recovery overall.

"The recovery is not as fast as a lot of people would like, but I always tell people … we shut down the entire economy, and it’s hard to get people back to work when they’ve been on the bench that long," Reardon told Newsday after a stop at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus Thursday morning to highlight the college’s new manufacturing apprenticeship training program.

"People are looking around and thinking, ‘Maybe I don’t want to work in that restaurant kitchen, maybe there’s some other work that I could do that would be more fulfilling,’ " said Reardon.

"So, there’s a lot of change out there, but people are coming back into the workforce every day," she said. "Nobody is going to sit on the bench forever."

Labor market analyst Shital Patel said that the Island is ultimately in a similar place to the state when it comes to recovered jobs. But, she said, "It’s hard to say whether slower hiring on Long Island is due to demand- or supply-side issues."

The Island still has about 105,000 fewer jobs now than in October 2019, a drop of 7.7%, but Patel pointed to several regional bright spots.

For one, restaurants on the Island saw a significant bump, gaining 1,800 jobs between September and October when a loss of 2,000 jobs is typical for the month.

That’s good news for employers in an industry that has been beset by worker shortages.

While the number of filled restaurant jobs on the Island is still 11.3% below October 2019 levels, it’s improved substantially since the start of the year.

Additionally, a loss of 1,700 health care jobs reported last month was revised, showing a gain of 1,100 jobs instead, Patel said.

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