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Long Island sees modest employment growth in May

Anthony Barone, left, an employment recruiter for the

Anthony Barone, left, an employment recruiter for the U.S. Postal Service, speaks with Esther Orellana of East Hampton, at a job fair at the East Hampton Library in East Hampton on April 12, 2019.  Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

While Long Island added more jobs last month, an increase largely attributed to gains in health care hiring, employment growth in May was modest, state data released Thursday show.

The Island’s economy in the private and public sectors grew by a net 3,400 jobs in May from the year before, according to the state Labor Department. That compared with a 6,500-job, year-over-year gain in April.

“We had moderate job growth,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the Labor Department’s Hicksville office. While the “pace of job creation is slowing,” she said, the number of total nonfarm jobs in the region, which includes the public and private sectors, is at a record high for the month.

The total number of jobs in Nassau and Suffolk counties rose to 1.363 million in May, a 0.2 percent increase from a year earlier. In May 2019, Long Island had 1.360 million jobs.

As has been the case for several years, the health care sector had the largest increases in employment, with 11,400 more jobs last month year over year. Ambulatory health services, such as urgent care centers and outpatient facilities, led the way with the largest gains in the sector, adding 6,400 jobs.

Behind health care, construction posted a gain of 4,300 jobs last month, an increase of 5.1 percent, year over year.

“The one really bright spot we had this month was manufacturing, which is huge for the region,” Patel said.

Manufacturing added 1,500 jobs in May, a 2.1 percent increase over last year. Much of that growth was in the durable goods sector, which includes the region’s aerospace and defense manufacturers.

Only three of the nine job sectors posted job gains in May year over year. 

While leisure and hospitality posted a loss of 400 jobs year over year, the sector saw an increase of 7,400 jobs month-over-month from April into May, above the expected average of 6,900 jobs, Patel said.

“On a year-over-year basis, we’re down,” she said. “But going into the [summer] season,” employers have been hiring leisure employees “at a slightly stronger pace than they have in the past.”

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, said the relatively small growth rate in jobs is likely a result of the region’s unemployment levels.

“Long Island has a very low unemployment rate, and once you’re at full employment, it’s hard to push beyond that,” Rizzo said. “There’s just more job openings than candidates right now.”

Rizzo said he’s “not surprised to see modest growth in a situation like that.”

In a news release, the Labor Department said the state’s private-sector job count increased by 87,400, or 1.1 percent, year over year. The “slowdown this month in New York State’s labor market reflects the weak national jobs report in May, as private sector payrolls in the U.S. increased by less than 100,000, when a gain of 200,000 is more typical,” the release said.

Long Island’s job growth rate of 0.2 percent came in well under New York City’s growth rate of 2.3 percent for the month.

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