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LI unemployment rate drops to 4.9 percent

Long Island's unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent

Long Island's unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in July from 5.3 percent a year earlier, the state Department of Labor reported Tuesday. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Long Island's unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in July from 5.3 percent a year earlier as the number of employed workers continued to grow, the state Department of Labor reported Tuesday. It was the lowest rate since July 2007.

The rate was 4.7 percent in Nassau County and 5.1 percent in Suffolk.

The state said 671,800 people were employed in Nassau in July, versus 33,100 unemployed. In Suffolk 748,200 were employed and 40,500 unemployed.

Shital Patel, state labor market analyst for the Long Island region, said the low unemployment figures indicate a strong labor market on Long Island and not just a statistical fluke from discouraged people leaving the labor force, who are not counted as unemployed.

"Through 2014 and in early 2015 a lot of the improvement in the unemployment rate was due to a decline in the labor force," she said. "Now, in the last four months, we have actually had increases in the labor force and in employed individuals."

Both counties had better showings than the state as a whole, whose unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in July, down from 5.5 percent a year earlier and the lowest since July 2008, the labor department said.

Chief economist John Rizzo of the Long Island Association, the Island's largest business group, said in an email, "The labor market is showing continued strength on Long Island." He added that "the labor force participation rate and number of employed individuals increased year-over-year, while the number of unemployed declined."

The unemployment rate is calculated by the state based on a survey of 3,100 households.

In a breakdown for July by town and village, Freeport had the highest unemployment rate in Nassau County -- 5.6 percent -- while North Hempstead Town and Rockville Centre had the lowest rates -- 4.2 percent.

In Suffolk, Babylon Town had the highest rate -- 5.7 percent -- while Southampton Town had the lowest at 4.2 percent.

The private sector job count is based on a survey of 18,000 New York employers.

In July, the department reported that June's Long Island jobless rate dropped to 4.5 percent, the lowest for the month since 2007. It had been 4.9 percent a year earlier.

The unemployment rate isn't adjusted for seasonal swings in employment, so the survey focuses on year-over-year changes.

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