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Island's January jobless rate drops to 3.9 percent, the lowest for the month since 2001

The preliminary numbers come after the state Labor Department issued 2018 revisions showing that the local employment market lost jobs in the final five months of last year.

A job seeker speaks with a recruiter during

A job seeker speaks with a recruiter during a job fair  in Melville on  April 25, 2018. Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Long Island’s January unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest for the month since 2001, preliminary state data released Tuesday show.

In January 2018, the rate was 4.9 percent.

Though the January jobless rate fell, it was the highest year-over-year rate of the past six months. For example, December’s unemployment rate fell to 3.1 percent from 4.2 percent a year earlier.

The number of employed Long Islanders rose by 26,500 to a record-high 1.423 million for January, according to state Labor Department data. The number of unemployed residents fell by 14,700 to 57,500, the lowest for January also since 2001.

In the aftermath of the most recent recession, the number of unemployed residents here peaked for the month at 119,000 in 2010. The unemployment rate peaked for the month in 2010 also -- at 8.2 percent.

“January’s report showed that Long Island’s labor market remains tight,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.

Economist John A. Rizzo, a Stony Brook University professor and chief economist for the Long Island Association, agreed.

“The labor market continues its strong run,” Rizzo said.

They and other economists have long noted the Island’s low unemployment rate and labor shortages.

The latest numbers come after the Labor Department last week issued dramatically revised data showing that the local job market shrank in the last five months of 2018, after preliminary data showed some of the biggest increases of the year for that period.

Tuesday’s data are based on a Census household survey and include residents regardless of where they work. The statistics in last week’s jobs report were drawn from a survey of Long Island businesses.

The Labor Department uses year-over-year data because the local data aren’t adjusted for seasonal swings in employment.

The Island’s jobless rate compares with 4.6 percent for the state and 4.4 percent for the nation in the same seasonally unadjusted period.

Nassau’s 3.6 percent jobless rate was the lowest in the state. Suffolk tied with Onondaga and Rensselaer for the sixth lowest.

The department will release the Island’s February employment numbers on Thursday.

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