Long Island’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in June from 4.5 percent in June 2015, and a state economist said that the Island is showing signs of a worker shortage.
The jobless rate was the lowest for the month since 2007, the state Labor Department said Tuesday.
“The decrease in the unemployment rate reflects real improvement in the labor market,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office. “We are definitely nearing pre-recession lows.”
John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, noted that the rate has remained below 4 percent for the past three months, something that last happened nine years ago. And the number of workers employed in June rose to 1.44 million, reaching a level not seen for that month since 2008.
“All of this points to ongoing strength in the labor market,” Rizzo said.
The report, which is based on a survey of Long Island residents, regardless of where they work, showed that the number of employed residents grew by 11,600 in June. That gain was slower than May’s year-over-year increase of 17,600 more employed residents.
But economists said that the slower rate of growth, at a time when the unemployment rate was below 4 percent, could indicate that almost every unemployed person who searched for a job found work.
Patel also noted that the number of unemployed workers on the Island fell by 11,300 last month, nearly matching the rise in the number employed, which could also reflect a tightening labor market. The Island now has 56,700 unemployed residents.
“There basically seems to be, anecdotally speaking, a tightening of the labor markets out there,” Patel said. “Companies seem to have a hard time finding workers.”
Though some of the Island’s higher-paying sectors such as construction and financial activities have been adding jobs, employment growth since the last recession, which ended in June 2009, has been largely led by lower-wage jobs.
Among the Island’s incorporated areas, Hempstead Village had the highest jobless rate, at 4.7 percent. Long Beach’s 3.3 percent was the lowest.
Around the state, Nassau County ranked fourth, with a 3.6 percent jobless rate. Suffolk’s 3.9 percent rate tied it for seventh place with Rockland, Westchester and Yates counties.
The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations.
The state’s unemployment rate last month was 4.5 percent, while the nation’s and New York City’s both came in at 5.1 percent, all on a seasonally unadjusted basis.