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LI adds 15,100 jobs despite construction contraction

Long Island added 15,100 jobs in November, the

Long Island added 15,100 jobs in November, the state Labor Department said Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Long Island had 15,100 more jobs in November than a year ago, marking the 56th consecutive month of expansion since April 2010, the New York Labor Department reported Thursday.

The 1.2 percent increase in jobs versus November 2013, however, fell short of year-over-year gains in September and October, when Long Island employers added 17,200 and 17,800 positions.

In November, additions in transportation and warehousing were offset by lackluster growth in retail and a contraction in construction.

The transportation and warehousing sector notched a 4.1 percent gain in year-over-year employment, but retail businesses added only 4,400 holiday season jobs versus the October total, fewer than the typical gain of 5,100, the Labor Department said.

After strong growth in the spring, construction payrolls shrank for a second month in a row. The sector shed 1,400 jobs from October, versus a typical loss of 400, the department said.

Wall Street's woes also took a toll in November as Long Island lost 300 finance and insurance jobs from October and 2,800 compared with November 2013.

"It's the result of what's happening nationwide in the banking sector," said Shital Patel, a labor-market analyst in the Labor Department's Hicksville office. "They're consolidating operations, although there is growth in smaller banks and credit unions."

Long Island's regional financial firms have, however, been picking up employees as some top-tier banks such as Citigroup shed jobs, said Jennifer Takacs-O'Shea, president of Caterpillar Career Consultants.

"When the big fish struggle, the smaller fish have the opportunity to gain some great talent," she said.

Total nonfarm payroll, including full- and part-time positions, reached 1,312,100 jobs for Long Island, compared with 1,308,700 in October and 1,297,000 in November 2013.

Long Island's slow job growth reflects gradual hiring at business, said Rob Basso, president of Freeport-based Advantage Payroll Services. He said his 3,000 business clients have added, on average, one employee per company over the past 12 months.

Still, Basso said that the "confidence level is higher" among Long Island business owners and that a lingering sense of economic malaise "is beginning to soften."

He forecast that retail and hospitality business owners will hire aggressively in 2015, while the market for highly skilled employees in all fields will remain competitive.

Long Island's 1.2 percent year-over-year gain in total nonfarm jobs -- which includes private-sector and government employment -- came in stronger than New York City's northern suburbs of Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties, which added 0.4 percent.

New York City, which posted a gain of 2 percent, or 79,400 jobs, led all regions of New York State. New York State overall added 1 percent, and the United States notched a gain of 2.8 million jobs or 2 percent.

The New York Labor Department in a separate report issued Thursday said that unemployment statewide dropped to 5.9 percent in November, the lowest level since September 2008. Unemployment statistics, however, only count candidates who are actively seeking work and not discouraged job hunters who have dropped out of the workforce.

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