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Long Island job market continues to gain strength, March data show

The Long Island job market has continued to pick up steam, the latest state data show.

The Island had 17,300 more jobs last month than in March 2017, according to Labor Department data.

And February’s results were even stronger than first thought. That year-over-year increase was revised up to 16,300 jobs, from the 15,600 the department first reported. Even before the revision, February’s growth was the strongest for the Island since June.  

The trade, transportation and utilities sector gained the most jobs, up 7,300. Retail accounted for 4,200 of them.

The Island's highest-paying sector, financial activities, shrank the most, losing 1,500 jobs. It includes the insurance, real estate and banking industries. The losses may have resulted from the continued consolidation of back-office operations, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. 

And that sector's monthly performance could presage continued declines. Financial activities lost 400 jobs between February and March, when a gain of 300 is more typical, Patel said.   

The private-education and health-services sector, which for years led the Island’s employment growth, lost jobs for the second consecutive month, albeit at a significantly slower rate. It shed 1,000 jobs year over year in March, down from a 2,000-job decline in February, which was the first year-over-year loss for the sector since 1990, when the department adopted its current methodology. Previously, health care generally gained jobs, while the private education portion of the sector typically shrank. But now both are declining.

The health-care losses occurred even though "hiring activity across the region, anecdotally speaking, is quite strong," Patel said. 

But she said that the short-term measure of the sector's strength could presage a turnaround for health care. It added 1,500 jobs between February and March, above the average 1,100 for the period.   

The construction sector, one of the Island's highest-paying, continued to be strong, with a 3,100 job gain. 

"Increased building across the region led to strong hiring in the construction sector," Patel said.

The Island's private sector added 16,100 jobs; government sector grew by 1,200. 

The total number of jobs on the Island rose to 1.33 million last month, from 1.31 million a year earlier.

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

The Island's 1.3 percent job growth for the latest period exceeded the state's 1.1 percent but fell short of the 1.6 percent increase for both New York City and the nation in the same seasonally unadjusted period. 

The department will release the Island’s March unemployment rate on Tuesday. In February the rate rose to 5.1 percent, from 4.8 percent a year earlier.

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