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LI job market continues to lose steam, local data show

Samantha Nakervis, of Center Moriches, right, talks with

Samantha Nakervis, of Center Moriches, right, talks with Roxanne Conroy, executive recruiter from Access Staffing, during a job fair at Newsday in Melville, April 26, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

The Long Island economy continues to lose steam, state data released Thursday show.

The Island had 14,000 more jobs in April, compared with April 2016, state Labor Department data show. That annualized rate of growth slowed from March’s 18,400 year-over-year increase, which slowed from February’s 29,500.

And the February and March numbers are downward revisions of preliminary statistics released by the department earlier this year.

The private-education and health-services sector led the April gains with 8,100 more jobs, all in health care.

Contributing to that growth was the ambulatory health-care services subsector, “which is growing at a blistering pace in the region,” Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office, writes in the latest report. That subsector includes urgent-care centers and other facilities offering out-patient services, Patel said.

The subsector was up 3,500 jobs year over year. And it had 1,500 more jobs in April compared with March, five times the average month-to-month gain for that period, Patel said.

Health care overall accounted for 71 percent of Long Island’s job growth in the April to April period, said economist Gregory DeFreitas, who heads Hofstra University’s labor-studies program. He attributed that growth in part to the Affordable Care Act, or Obama Care. And he said that any changes in that law that would result in health care coverage for fewer people could put Long Island’s job-growth engine at risk.

Long Island “could be vulnerable as a result, unless we try to diversify into more growth sections,” he said.

One of the Island’s highest-paying job sectors, professional and business services, grew by 2,500 jobs in part because of increased demand for computer services, Patel said

“Those computer-related services appear to be growing on Long Island, and they tend to offer higher-paying jobs,” she said.

Also in professional and businesses services, the subsector that includes staffing companies posted strong growth, up 1,400 jobs year over year.

“Considering that the Long Island economy is essentially at full employment, companies could be seeking out services from placement agencies or executive-search services to fill vacant positions,” Patel said.

But financial activities, the Island’s highest-paying sector, lost the most jobs — 1,600 year over year. That sector includes finance, insurance and real estate. Economists have attributed some of those losses to the consolidation of banks’ back-office operations.

The leisure and hospitality sector gained 1,400 jobs year over year. On a month-to-month basis it shot up by 6,400 jobs, when the average gain is 3,900, Patel said.

That bodes well for tourism’s contribution to the economy this season, said John A. Rizzo, a Stony Brook University professor and chief economist of the trade group The Long Island Association.

“The employment results for leisure and hospitality provide a good signal for the summer tourism season because the hiring was well in excess of the norm,” Rizzo said.

Overall, the private sector expanded by 11,100 jobs. The government sector grew by 2,900, mostly on increased hiring at local public schools.

The Island had 1.34 million jobs last month, compared with 1.32 million a year earlier.

The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.

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