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LI economy adds 15,200 job in August, compared with year earlier

Lorenzo Abbatiello, of Carle Place, speaks with representatives,

Lorenzo Abbatiello, of Carle Place, speaks with representatives, during the Long Island Tech Job Fair. The Long Island job market picked up speed in August, preliminary state data released on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 showed. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Long Island job market picked up speed in August, preliminary state data released Thursday show.

The Island had 15,200 more jobs in August than it had a year earlier, the Labor Department said.

That pace quickened from July, when employment grew at an annual rate of 12,800 jobs. That number was revised higher Thursday from the 12,500 the department originally estimated.

Construction led local employment growth, increasing by 7,200 jobs last month from a year earlier. That sector has now led job gains for three consecutive months.

"Construction activity is strong across a number of sectors including residential, particularly multifamily, assisted living and over-55, health care, colleges and universities and industrial," said Shital Patel, a labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. "Strong construction activity in the city is also driving hiring at contractors in the region."

Howard Rowland, president of E. W. Howell LLC, a Plainview-based builder, said his company has hired about a half-dozen people in the past month, mainly for management and supervisory positions.  He said the company is finishing up the new Stony Brook Children's Hospital. Its finished projects include the revamped building on the former Briarcliffe College campus in Patchogue that is now the local operations center of Blue Point Brewing Co.

Steady work has kept the company's subcontractors "extremely" busy, he said.

 "They are finding it hard to find skilled people," he said. 

The leisure and hospitality sector ranked second in employment growth, with a 5,000-job increase.

 "The strong performance in leisure and hospitality is notable for two reasons," said John A. Rizzo, a Stony Brook University economics professor and chief economist for the Long Island Association trade group. "First, it suggests that consumer demand for discretionary spending is high, which typically happens when economic conditions are strong. Second, it points to a strong summer tourism season on Long Island."

The health care sector, which ranked third, came roaring back in the latest report, adding 4,100 jobs, after sputtering for much of the year.

"Surprising weakness in health care earlier in the year has been reversed as employment in the sector is once again reaching record levels," Patel said.

 Ambulatory health services, such as urgent care centers, were the prime reason for the job increase, she said.

Though the Island had a record 1.364 million jobs in August, some sectors saw declines, such as financial activities, legal and retail, said economist Richard Vogel, dean of Farmingdale State College's Business School.

"There still seems to be some strength in the region, although there are certainly some continued trends in declining employment in some sectors," he said. 

The department will issue the August unemployment rate on Tuesday. In July the rate fell to 3.9 percent, from 4.6 percent a year earlier.

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

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