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Long Island adds 25,000 jobs compared to a year ago, report says

Waine Howell, 53, of Bellport, speaks with Evelyn

Waine Howell, 53, of Bellport, speaks with Evelyn Beuttenmuller of Bren-Tronics Inc. at the Fresh Start Career Expo at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood last month. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Long Island’s job market revved up in March, preliminary state data released yesterday show.

The Island had 25,000 more jobs last month, compared with March 2015, the biggest year-over-year increase for any month in three years.

“The job report for March painted a cautiously strong picture of Long Island’s job market,” said Shital Patel, a labor-market analyst in the Labor Department’s Hicksville office, noting that it is too soon to pronounce the latest report a trend.

But other data in the report could presage stronger growth going forward. For example, five of the nine private sectors reached record hiring levels between February and March. The record-setters were financial activities, the Island’s highest-paying sector; professional and business services; construction; private-education and health services, and leisure and hospitality.

“Record month-over-month job gains in higher-paying industries such as financial activities, professional and business services, and construction hopefully portend continued strong job growth into the summer,” Patel said.

All but two of the private sectors added jobs year over year, Patel said. Posting losses were the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which shed 3,000 jobs, largely because of retail layoffs, and information, which declined by 500 jobs. Information includes media companies.

But on a month-to-month basis, retail perked up, “after an unusually weak holiday hiring season,” Patel said. The sector added 1,600 jobs between February and March, more than double the average 600, she said.

That, coupled with the record monthly gain in leisure and hospitality jobs, points “to stronger growth in consumer spending going forward,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association.

The education and health-services sector once again led year-over-year job growth, with 8,000 more jobs in March, compared with a year earlier. That sector, which led employment growth in 2015, held onto that lead in the first three months of this year.

Leisure and hospitality came in second with 6,300 jobs added year over year. The biggest growth was in the subsectors that include accommodations and food services, and bars..

Professional and business services, which includes accountants and attorneys, was third, expanding by 5,500 jobs. The biggest gains there were in the administrative and support and waste-management subsector.

The government sector gained 3,500 jobs, largely because of hiring at local public schools.

The Island’s 2 percent employment growth in March outpaced the state’s 1.6 percent but matched the nation’s in the same year-over-year period. New York City and Orange-Rockland-Westchester both had growth of 2.4 percent, the highest in the state.

All told Long Island had 1.298 million jobs in March, compared with 1.273 million a year earlier.

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

The department will release the March unemployment rate on Tuesday. In February, the rate fell to 4.5 percent, from 5.3 percent a year earlier. The February 2016 rate was the lowest for the month since 2007.

The employment report is based on a monthly sampling of local businesses. The unemployment statistics are gathered from a Census survey of households.

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