Construction on the ONENorth apartment development in Port Jefferson in...

Construction on the ONENorth apartment development in Port Jefferson in December. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Long Island’s economy added 21,100 private sector jobs in March from the same time a year ago, according to state data released Thursday.

The Island’s year-over-year private sector job count increased by 1.9% from March 2023 to last month, a higher rate of growth than both the state, 1.3%, and nation — 1.7% — according to recent state Labor Department figures.

In total, the Island had over 1.34 million jobs last month.

“In general, it’s a positive report showing continued strength in the Long Island job market,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst with the Labor Department’s Hicksville office. “The first three months of the year we’re seeing an acceleration in job growth.”

Patel said the growth rate in jobs observed in the monthly state report is higher than in the years leading up to the pandemic.

“The private sector job count is now 8,700, or 0.8%, above pre-pandemic levels,” Patel said.

Leading the growth over the year were the health care and social assistance sector and leisure and hospitality sector, which added 11,300 jobs and 8,100 jobs, respectively.

In total, five of the Island’s nine private sector industries added jobs last month over the past year.

Between February and March, Nassau and Suffolk saw private sector jobs grow by 13,700, slightly higher than the more typical gain of 11,300 jobs.

A big leader in that increase was the construction sector, which added 3,600 jobs last month, well above its average increase of 2,000 jobs.

“A flurry of activity across a variety of construction segments including mixed-use residential, health care, infrastructure, and at colleges and universities has boosted demand for workers and the milder March may have also increased activity,” Patel said.

John A. Rizzo, an economist and a Stony Brook University professor, said the state figures show a stronger job market, but can’t capture the real struggles of workers and jobseekers on the ground.

“It’s good that the labor market is strong, but real earnings, adjusted for inflation, are still depressed to pre-pandemic levels,” Rizzo said.

“One bit of good news about the labor market does not mean workers are happy.”

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