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Long Island adds 14,700 jobs, report shows

Jobseekers at the "Fresh Start Career Expo" at

Jobseekers at the "Fresh Start Career Expo" at Suffolk County Community College's Michael J. Grant campus, Health, Sports and Education Center in Brentwood, on March 24, 2016. Credit: Heather Walsh

Long Island’s job growth slowed in April, when the economy had 14,700 more jobs than a year earlier, state data released Thursday show. It was the slowest year-over-year growth since December, when the economy added 8,600 jobs.

The private-education and health-services category led gains with 8,000 more jobs, the Labor Department said. Health care accounted for all of those gains, adding 8,300 jobs, while private education lost 300 jobs. The sector’s total employment rose to 258,000 jobs, a 26-year high for the month.

The leisure and hospitality sector added the second-highest number of jobs — 6,100. It also posted a 26-year high for the month, with a total of 120,600 jobs.

One local economist said that sector’s strong numbers are particularly encouraging this time of year.

“Strong hiring in leisure and hospitality points to favorable expectations for the summer tourism season,” said John Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group.

The biggest losses were in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which includes retail; the sector shed 4,400 jobs. The biggest losers within the sector were grocery stores, which declined by 1,200 jobs, and department stores, down 1,000.

Retail has not recovered from last year’s sluggish holiday hiring season, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office. “We just have not had any hiring to make up for that,” she said.

For example, retailers added a record low 1,000 seasonal jobs in the November-to-December period, compared with a typical average of 4,600, Patel wrote in an earlier report. The job slowdown in that period last year also included employment losses associated with A&P’s bankruptcy and the closing or sale of its Waldbaum’s and Pathmark supermarkets, she said.

Financial activities, the Island’s highest-paying sector, rose by 1,400 jobs to 74,200, the largest number for the month since 2008. Real estate and insurance expansion drove most of those gains, Patel said. They were up by 1,500 and 700 jobs respectively. The banking sector, on the other hand, continued to lose jobs. Its two subsectors were down a total of 1,400 jobs, compared with a year earlier.

Patel noted that larger banks have been shrinking their back-office operations here. While smaller banks have been expanding, that growth hasn’t been strong enough to reverse overall losses, she said. “We are not having a hemmorhage of job numbers, but we are not really gaining in that space either,” she added.

The private sector overall added 11,500 jobs, while the government sector expanded by 3,200. The total number of jobs on the Island rose to 1.312 million in April, from 1.298 million in April 2015.

The department uses year-over-year comparisons because the local data aren’t adjusted to reflect seasonal swings in employment.

The Island’s 1.1 percent job growth year over year lagged New York City’s 2.4 percent, the state’s 1.3 percent and the nation’s 1.9 percent, all on the same seasonally unadjusted basis.

The Labor Department will release the April unemployment rate on Tuesday. The rate fell to 4.2 percent in March, from 4.9 percent in March 2015.

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