Long Island’s economy grew by 74,400 jobs last month as the region continued the phased reopening that started in late May, state data released Thursday show.
Separately from the gain in jobs over the month, the Island also reported a slight rise in unemployment claims, continuing an up-and-down pattern in the number of Islanders seeking state aid each week.
The Island reported a total of nearly 1.2 million jobs in June, up slightly from the 1.1 million jobs reported the month before, according to the state Labor Department. The month-over-month figures mark a 6.8% increase in the number of jobs.
But while the monthly change shows improvement, on a year-over-year basis the figures look bleaker.
Long Island had 207,000 fewer jobs last month than it did in the same month in 2019.
Job growth figures from May were revised down in Thursday's report.
The region had intially reported an increase of 48,100 jobs in May, but those preliminary figures were revised down by 8,700 to 39,400 jobs. Monthly job growth figures are preliminary data based on a sample survey of businesses.
June's increase in jobs was largely due to gains made in the retail and hospitality sectors, said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the Labor Department's Hicksville office.
“As Long Island entered Phase 2 reopening on June 10, nonessential retailers were able to open their stores to customers, and restaurants resumed outdoor dining,” Patel said. “Employment in retail trade rose by 13,600 in June, after a gain of 8,600 in May and a loss of 41,100 in April.”
Restaurant hiring also continued, rising by 9,200 jobs last month, following a gain of 11,000 jobs in May.
Since February, employment in retail is down by 18,600 jobs, or 12.1%, while food and beverage services sector jobs are down by 44,100 jobs, or 45.3%, Patel said.
In the face of economic challenges, small businesses are “holding on” and trying to bring workers back, said Erica Chase-Gregory, director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College, a part of the Small Business Administration.
“What we’re hearing is that the small businesses that we’re working with so desperately want to bring all of their staff back,” Chase-Gregory said. “It’s just a matter of having the sales and revenue to support all that.
"That’s what’s keeping them from being fully staffed as they were pre-COVID," she said.
Meanwhile, the New York Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report showed that more than 10,800 Long Islanders filed initial jobless claims last week, an increase from the more than 10,500 who filed the week prior.
In total, more than 418,000 Long Islanders have filed for unemployment since the health crisis began. More than 3.1 million New Yorkers have filed for aid during that time.
Richard Vogel, dean of the school of business and professor of economics at Farmingdale State College, said that the monthly and weekly figures show an economic recovery effort that is in line with the region’s phased reopening.
“Statistically, it looks like we’re … not changing much,” Vogel said in reference to the number of jobless claims. “It’s certainly better than where we were before. We have jobs coming back.”
Asked about the pace of the recovery, Vogel said “there’s really not a map here” and that addressing the health concern remains the top priority.
“As long as we’re in the middle of a health crisis we are basically rowing down the river with an oar-and-a-half,” he said.