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Number of jobs up slightly on Long Island, led by health care, construction

A job fair presented by the Suffolk County

A job fair presented by the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center earlier this year.  Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The number of jobs on Long Island grew slightly last month, driven by gains made in the health care, construction and leisure sectors, state data released Thursday show.

The Island’s economy grew by 6,000 jobs in August from a year earlier, according to state Labor Department data. That compared with a 11,900 job gain year over year in July.

“Generally, job growth on Long Island remains modest,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the Labor Department’s Hicksville office. “There hasn’t been a pickup, and there hasn’t been much of a slowdown.”

Health care, the region’s largest job creator, reported the largest job gains last month, with 7,400 more jobs year over year. Four of the nine job sectors tracked by the state posted job gains in August.

The construction sector added 6,000 jobs last month, representing an increase of 7% over last year.

Leisure and hospitality, coming off of a strong summer season, posted a gain of 3,900 jobs in August, a 2.7% increase.

Manufacturing hiring, a bright spot in recent months’ reports, reported a gain of 1,000 jobs, or, a 1.4% increase.

While Long Island saw increases on an annual basis, there were some surprising month-to-month losses, Patel said.

From July into August, construction lost 1,900 jobs when a gain of 300 jobs is typical for the time period. The retail industry as well lost 1,600 jobs when a gain of 100 jobs over the month-to-month period is typical.

“There was surprising weakness in construction where we had a loss of jobs compared to a small gain that we see on average,” Patel said.

Although the month-to-month declines buck a trend of growth, John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, a prominent business group, said the decline from July into August makes sense.

“This is a pullback after months of expansion,” Rizzo said. Given that prior month-over-month figures have generally shown growth, he said, “each month a higher bar is set for the next month.

“One month of contraction doesn’t make a trend,” Rizzo said.

While the Island’s labor market has been “growing at a relatively steady rate for the past two years, reaching record-high employment for the month of August,” Patel said, the financial activities sector, known for its higher-than-average employee pay, has shown continuous weakness over an extended period.

“The financial activities sector on Long Island has faced some weakness for several years, mainly in mortgage activities and other back-office operations,” Patel said. “Global economic uncertainty may also be limiting growth in the sector.”

The total number of jobs in Nassau and Suffolk counties rose to 1.357 million in August, a 0.4 percent increase from a year earlier. In August last year, Long Island had 1.351 million jobs.

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