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LI’s jobless rate 4.1% in October, unchanged from a year ago

Chris Dunbar of Centereach, who served in the

Chris Dunbar of Centereach, who served in the Navy, speaks with Elisa Fion and Lauren McGarvey field recruiters for the US Postal Service at the Suffolk County Community College Brentwood campus job fair for veterans and the public, Oct. 14, 2016. Credit: Veronique Louis

Long Island’s October unemployment rate of 4.1 percent was unchanged from a year earlier, state Labor Department data released Tuesday show.

Long Island is close to the classic definition of full employment, which is a jobless rate below 4 percent. That current rate is half the 8.2 percent peak reached in 2010 and 2012, in the aftermath of the last recession. The national recession officially ended in June 2009.

The jobless rate had been falling steadily since September 2012. But in the last two monthly reports, the year-over-year decline in the unemployment rate has sharply narrowed or disappeared. September’s 4.2 percent jobless rate, for example, was down just 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier.

Last month’s unchanged rate came amid slowing job growth on the Island. The Labor Department last week said that the job market in Nassau and Suffolk counties had 11,700 more jobs last month than a year earlier. That tally contrasted with September’s year-over-year job gain of 14,600, August’s 15,100 and July’s 16,600.

Those job numbers are based on a survey of Long Island businesses.

The unemployment rate is based on a Census sample survey of Long Island residents, regardless of where they work.

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

The Island had 60,500 unemployed residents in October, down 100 from a year earlier. The number of employed residents totaled 1.41 million, up 2,600 from a year earlier, and the highest for the month since 2008.

“This is a favorable sign for holiday shopping and economic growth in the coming months,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association.

The higher number of newly employed residents relative to the small drop in the number of unemployed Long Islanders last month suggests that discouraged workers, those who had given up looking for work and thus weren’t included in the unemployment statistics, resumed their job hunt and found work.

James Brown, labor-market analyst in the department’s Brooklyn office, said he doesn’t expect the jobless rate to go much lower than the current 4.1 percent anytime soon because the improving employment market here will continue to draw more people into the job market, including nonresidents.

“The attractiveness of the labor market is drawing in workers,” he said. “And it will keep the rate from dropping.”

Among the Island’s incorporated areas, Freeport Village had the highest jobless rate at 4.9 percent. Glen Cove’s 3.6 percent was the lowest.


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