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Long Island's jobless rate falls to 3%

The unemployment rate is the lowest for any November since 1999, the Labor Department said.

Job-seekers at a job fair in the Newsday

Job-seekers at a job fair in the Newsday auditorium in Melville on April 25. A strong job market should pressure employers to raise wages in 2019, experts say. Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Long Island's unemployment rate fell to 3 percent in November, the lowest rate for any November since 1999, according to state data released Thursday.

A year earlier, Long Island's rate stood at 4.3 percent. The state focuses on year-over-year changes because the data aren't adjusted for seasonal swings in employment.

The number of jobless Long Islanders declined by 18,600 last month from the year-earlier period, and the number of employed residents rose 49,600 to a record 1,459,400.

"Overall, the report was great news for the region," said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the state Labor Department's Hicksville office. 

The growth in jobs likely is prompting some Long Islanders to re-enter the labor force, Patel said.

Nassau County’s year-over-year jobless rate decreased 1.2 percentage points to 2.9 percent in November, according to the Labor Department.

Suffolk County’s rate decreased by 1.4 percentage points to 3.1 percent. 

Despite the tightening labor market, wage increases remain muted, Patel said.

"You would expect wages to go up more," she said.

Meager increases in Long island's population and the substantial number of older workers could further squeeze an already tight job market, Patel said.

"The region’s slow population growth combined with a larger portion of the workforce at or nearing retirement age is a cause for concern for a labor market near full employment," she said.

One in four workers on Long Island was aged 55 or over as of 2017, according to Census Bureau data.

"With the unemployment rate as low as it is, we're going to have some issues replacing retiring workers," she said.

The city of Glen Cove was the municipality with Long Island's lowest unemployment rate, at 2.7 percent. It was followed by the towns of North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Huntington and Smithtown at 2.8 percent.

Freeport Village at 3.8 percent had the highest jobless rate.

Ithaca's 2.9 percent unemployment rate was the lowest among state metropolitan areas in November, edging out Long Island and Dutchess-Putnam counties, which tied at 3 percent.

On a county basis, Columbia's 2.6 percent jobless rate led the state, with Nassau and four others tied at 2.9 percent. 

All 62 counties in that state had lower unemployment rates than in November 2017, according to the preliminary data. 

New York City's jobless rate was 3.7 percent, down from 4.1 percent in November 2017.

New York State overall had an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent versus 4.4 percent in the year-earlier period.

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