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Long Island gains 15,600 jobs; employment remains at record level

Construction led job gains as building projects around the Island continue to boost employment in that sector.

Patrick Labossiere, left, of Valley Stream, speaks with

Patrick Labossiere, left, of Valley Stream, speaks with recruiter Ted Huang of QSAC during a job fair in the Newsday auditorium in Melville in April. Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Stepped-up construction activity and bigger crowds at Long Island restaurants helped boost local employment to a record last month, state data released Thursday show.

The Long Island economy grew by 15,600 jobs in June from a year earlier, according to the state Labor Department. The total number of jobs on the Island rose to 1.387 million in June, the highest since the department began using its current methodology in 1990. In June 2017, the Island had 1.371 million jobs.

The construction sector posted the biggest employment gain, with 6,500 more jobs. A number of local projects such as the Ronkonkoma Hub mixed-use complex, downtown revitalizations and major infrastructure work lifted employment, said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.

"This increased activity has led to record-high job gains for the month of June and record levels of employment in the sector," Patel said.

The sector would see even more growth if construction companies could find enough qualified help.

Posillico Inc., a Farmingdale-based construction company, has hired people in the past two months but can't find enough project managers, estimators or crew foremen, said Tom Cassidy, vice president for business development.

"There is definitely a shortage of talent," Cassidy said.

The shortage is especially acute for certified gas mechanics for utility work, Cassidy said.

"I would hire them tomorrow if they call me up," he said.

Economist Richard Vogel, dean of the School of Business at Farmingdale State College, said local schools and governments may account for increased construction activity as well.

"Given that there may have been some improvements in some of these budgets, the projects they had planned [probably] went forward," he said.

More restaurant patrons boosted the leisure and hospitality sector, which posted the second-highest employment gain, with 4,200 more jobs, Patel said.

 "One of the main job generators on Long Island over the year has been restaurants," Patel said. "This entire recovery, restaurants have been generating a ton of jobs."

The education and health-services sector, which had been a job leader on the Island, added 600 jobs. 

Overall, six of the Island's nine private employment sectors tracked by the state gained jobs, reflecting solid employment growth overall, an economist said.

"Today's report shows large and broad-based jobs gains on Long Island in June, consistent with the strong overall economy," said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group.

By contrast, financial activities, the Island's highest-paying sector, lost the most jobs, shedding 1,200.

The government sector added 1,100 jobs. That gain resulted largely from education jobs at state and local schools. Federal employment declined by 900 jobs year over year to 15,700, the lowest level since at least 1990.

Though the manufacturing sector lost 1,000 jobs, its nondurable-goods subsector gained 300 jobs.

"The nondurables portion of manufacturing is at its highest level since 2006, led by pharmaceutical and food manufacturing," Patel said.

Revised state data showed a 15,400 year-over-year gain in Long Island jobs for May, up from the 14,100 rise first reported.

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

The Island's 1.1 percent increase in nonfarm job growth last month compared with 1.7 percent for New York City, 1.4 percent for New York State and 1.6 percent for the nation in the same seasonally unadjusted period. Among the state's metro areas, Ithaca, the home of Cornell University, led job growth on a percentage basis, with a 3.2 percent increase.

The Labor Department will release the June unemployment rate on Tuesday. The jobless rate fell to 3.5 percent in May, the lowest for the month since 2007. A year earlier, the rate stood at 4.1 percent.

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