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Long Island adds 18,700 jobs, data show

People attend a Job Fair sponsored by the

People attend a Job Fair sponsored by the Suffolk County Department of Labor at the Sayville Public Library on the afternoon of Jan. 26, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Island’s job growth is picking up, state data released Thursday show. And revisions for 2015 show more of a mixed picture for the Island’s employment market than first reported.

The Island had 18,700 more jobs in January, compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department reported. It was the largest year-over-year increase since September.

Lower-wage sectors added the most jobs, led by private-education and health services, which had 5,700 more jobs. Health care accounted for almost all of that growth.

Leisure and hospitality came in second, with a 4,500-job gain.

“Strong job growth in leisure and hospitality suggests that discretionary spending is on the rise, a pattern consistent with economic recovery,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group.

The higher-wage government sector posted the third-biggest employment gain in January with 4,000 more jobs. That increase resulted mostly from stepped-up hiring at local public schools, which had largely lost jobs over the past four years.

“We’re finally seeing some growth in that area,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.

Other higher-paying sectors fared well in the latest report, too. Manufacturing built on momentum from the latter part of 2015 and added 1,300 jobs.

January marked that sector’s biggest year-over-year increase for the month since 2012. The growth was likely due to expanded employment at companies that make machinery and machinery parts for the denfense industry, Patel said.

Financial activities, the Island’s highest-paying sector, added 1,200 jobs, largely because of real estate, Patel said. Increased activity in the renting and leasing of multifamily housing units and industrial space were driving the employment gains, she said.

And revised data boosted the average job count for the financial-activities sector for 2015 by 2,200.

Professional and business services, another of the higher-paying sectors, came in fourth in job growth, with 3,000 jobs.

The biggest employment drops occurred in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which was down 2,100 jobs from the year before, mostly because of grocery store layoffs. They included jobs lost after A&P’s bankruptcy and the closing of its Pathmark and Waldbaum’s stores here, Patel said.

Revisions lowered the private sector’s average annual employment gain last year to 14,300 jobs, from an estimated 17,900, she said. All told, the Island had 1.28 million jobs in January, up from 1.26 million the year before. The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to reflect seasonal swings in employment.

Jackie LePage, 22, found a job in November in the professional and business-services sector. She was hired as a public relations coordinator at the Tayne Law Group Co., which specializes in debt resolutions and bankruptcy alternatives.

Finding that job allowed the West Islip resident and University of Tampa graduate to leave a job in Manhattan that involved a costly commute. She found out about the Tayne job from an acquaintance.

“I wouldn’t have gotten that job if I hadn’t made connections,” she said.

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