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LI unemployment rate ticks down to 4.2% as job growth slows

Rossy Mercedes, from the Time to Play Foundation,

Rossy Mercedes, from the Time to Play Foundation, speaks with Sgt. Rudolph Douglas, an NYPD recruitment officer, about possible job openings for her son at the Suffolk County Community College Brentwood campus job fair for veterans and the public on Oct. 14, 2016. Photo Credit: Veronique Louis

Long Island’s 4.2 percent unemployment in September barely budged from September 2015’s 4.3 percent, state data released Tuesday show. Still, it was the lowest for September since 2007.

The nearly unchanged rate came amid weakening job growth. Last week the state Labor Department said a survey of local businesses showed the Island had 14,600 more jobs in September than a year earlier. That gain slowed from August’s 15,100 annualized job increase and July’s 16,600.

The local unemployment data are drawn from a monthly Census survey of households. Employed family members are counted whether they work on or off the Island.

The latest report indicates that more residents who had struggled to find work, finally did so. The number of unemployed residents fell by 1,800 to 61,700. Meanwhile the number of employed Long Islanders rose by 13,600 to 1.41 million.

The wide discrepancy in those statistics suggests in part that more discouraged workers, who aren’t counted in the unemployment rate, jumped back into the job market and found work. Discouraged workers are unemployed people who have given up looking for a job since they don’t believe they can find one.

“It does suggest that people are returning to the labor market rather than an influx of new job seekers,” said James Brown, labor-market analyst in the department’s Brooklyn office.

Another local economist said the latest data reflect a robust employment market because the number of unemployed residents is at a nine-year low, while the number of employed is at an eight-year high.

“This is evidence of the ongoing strength in Long Island’s labor market, and is a positive sign for consumer spending during the fast-approaching holiday shopping season,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region’s biggest trade group.

Among the Island’s incorporated areas, the villages of Freeport and Hempstead had the highest jobless rate, tied at 4.8 percent. Glen Cove’s 3.6 percent was the lowest.

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

Long Island’s overall September jobless rate compared with 5.8 percent for New York City, 5.1 percent for the state and 4.8 percent for the nation, on the same seasonally unadjusted basis.

Columbia and Tompkins counties had the lowest rates in the state — 3.7 percent. Nassau’s 4.1 percent ranked it third with four other counties. Suffolk, with a 4.3 percent rate, tied for fifth place with three other counties.


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