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LI job market picks up pace in June, adding 12,100 positions

A jobs fair focusing on minority and women-owned

A jobs fair focusing on minority and women-owned businesses drew Klaudia Czarnocka, left, and Eva Casale to the Wang Center at Stony Brook University on June 28, 2016. Credit: Heather Walsh

The Long Island job market picked up its pace in June, after a dramatic slowdown in May, state data released Thursday show. But the Island’s growth rate lagged both the state’s and the nation’s.

The Island had 12,100 more jobs in June than in June 2015, the Labor Department said. That compared with a 4,400 year-over-year job increase in May, a month when local payrolls were affected by the Verizon strike.

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

Despite the bounce back, the Island’s 0.9 percent employment growth rate in June was weaker than the state’s 1.4 percent and the nation’s 1.8 percent, all seasonally unadjusted figures.

Job losses in the local retail sector were the biggest drag on growth, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office. That sector was down 5,200 jobs year over year. Those declines were the primary reason the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which includes retail, led all sectors in job losses last month, down 6,400 jobs.

“Retail is the only industry that is really dragging the overall [employment] number down,” Patel said.

Retail is struggling because Long Island has yet to recover from weak holiday hiring, Patel said. For example, she said that retail added a total of 3,600 jobs in October, November and December, sharply below that time period’s average gain of 11,300 jobs. And because layoffs for January and February were about normal — 13,600 jobs — the result has been negative job growth in retail, she said.

“We never made up for that lower-than-normal hiring,” Patel said.

The private-education and health-services sector led June employment gains with 8,300 more jobs, compared with June 2015. Health care accounted for all the increases, with the strongest growth coming from ambulatory services. That subsector includes such things as urgent-care centers.

Leisure and hospitality came in second with 3,500 more jobs, and construction was third with 3,200 more jobs. Construction, one the Island’s highest-paying sectors, also stood out because of its unusually strong month-to-month growth, which often presages stronger growth over the year.

Construction added 3,000 jobs between May and June, more than double the average gain of 1,200 for that period, Patel said.

“The construction industry continues to hire at a rapid clip,” she said.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, said the stronger month-to-month activity “bodes well for Long Island’s real estate sector.”

Long Island had a total of 1.348 million jobs in June, compared with 1.335 million in June 2015.

The Labor Department will release the June unemployment rate on Tuesday. In May, the local rate dropped to 3.7 percent, from 4.6 percent a year earlier.


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