The Long Island job market, which kicked off 2017 with strong growth, quickened its pace even more in February, state data released Thursday show.
The local economy tallied 30,600 more jobs last month, compared with February 2016, the largest year-over-year increase in four years, according to Labor Department data.
In January, the economy was growing at an annual rate of 28,300 jobs, also the fastest year-over-year pace since November 2013. That number was revised up from the 27,900-job increase first reported for January.
“This likely reflects the strength of Long Island’s economy and the belief that business conditions will improve under the new administration,” said John A. Rizzo, a Stony Brook University economics professor and chief economist for the Long Island Association. “Long Island’s relatively strong economy makes it better positioned to act on expectations of a more favorable business climate, and today’s jobs growth provides evidence of that.”
Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office, said that recent growth builds on 2016’s strong performance. Employment growth averaged 19,300 jobs for all of 2016.
“That acceleration is continuing, and that job growth is happening across a number of different sectors,” she said.
The private-education and health-services sector led gains, with 10,300 more jobs, all in health care. Job expansion at hospitals accounted for most of the sector’s growth, with a 4,400-job gain. The trade, transportation and utilities sector, powered by retail, came in second, with 8,700 jobs. Retail likewise added 4,400 jobs.
The financial-services sector, the Island’s highest paying, shrank the most, down 800 jobs.
Overall, private-sector employment grew by 27,100 jobs year over year. The public sector, boosted by hiring at public schools, added 3,500 jobs.
The private sector could be poised for even stronger growth going forward because it expanded by 2,500 jobs between January and February, when a loss of 1,400 jobs is more typical, Patel said. The construction industry helped fuel that month-to-month increase because a record warm February boosted hiring in that sector, Patel said.
The Island now has a total of 1.31 million jobs, compared with 1.28 million in February 2016.
The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.
The Island’s 2.4 percent employment growth was the third highest among the state’s metro areas, after Glens Falls’ 2.9 percent and Ithaca’s 2.5 percent. The state’s employment market grew 1.4 percent and the nation’s 1.7 percent, on the same seasonally unadjusted basis.
The Labor Department will release the Island’s February unemployment rate on Tuesday. The January jobless rate inched down to 4.4 percent, from 4.5 percent a year earlier.