Employment growth on Long Island has slowed as businesses struggle...

Employment growth on Long Island has slowed as businesses struggle to fill positions.  Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Long Island's job market has continued its slow climb back to pre-pandemic levels, though the rate of growth locally is being outpaced by the state and nation, state data show.

The region had 39,400 more jobs in June than it did a year ago — an annual growth rate of 3%, according to state Labor Department figures released Thursday. The Island has 1.33 million jobs, still 42,600 jobs, or 3.1% below total job counts in June 2019.

New York state’s year-over-year private sector job growth rate was 5.7%, while the national growth rate was 4.8%. But local economists said the region’s slower growth rate is not cause for concern.

“June’s report shows that Long Island’s labor market remains pretty strong,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst with the Labor Department’s Hicksville office.

While the Island added fewer jobs in June than the average for the month, she said previous months of above-average hiring have left the local economy in a strong position.

Above-normal hiring in the leisure and hospitality sector has continued, Patel added. 

Last month, leisure and hospitality added 10,800 jobs when a gain of 7,700 is typical. Much of that gain can be attributed to hiring at restaurants and bars, Patel said. 

The Island’s bars and restaurants added 5,900 jobs last month, above June's average gain of 4,100. Amusement, gambling and recreation businesses added 4,100 jobs compared to the typical gain of 3,500.

Leisure and hospitality employment is just 2,800 jobs, or 2%, below pre-pandemic levels, the data show. 

John Rizzo, economist and professor at Stony Brook University, said the gap between the Island’s annual job growth rate and that  of the state and nation is not a major cause for concern.

“It’s kind of like a ceiling effect,” Rizzo said. “The lower percentage growth in employment on Long Island is unsurprising because we have a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the state.”

Long Island’s unemployment rate hit a historic low of 2.7% for the second month in a row in May, the latest state data shows. That same month, the jobless rate statewide was 4.4% and 3.6% for the nation. The local rate is not seasonally adjusted. 

With the Island's job market already so tight,  “you’d expect further employment increases to be lower,” Rizzo said.

Additionally, the Federal Reserve's effort to tackle inflation by increasing interest rates has slowed the economy overall, he said, contributing to a slowing of job growth. 

“The fact that the level of employment on Long Island has seemed to plateau is indicative of that intent of the Fed to slow things down,” Rizzo said. 

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