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Long Island gains 13,400 jobs in March from a year earlier

Job seekers gather Oct. 7, 2014, at Nassau

Job seekers gather Oct. 7, 2014, at Nassau Coliseum to attend a private sector job fair hosted by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The Long Island economy had 13,400 more jobs in March than it had a year earlier, an increase of 1.1 percent, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

The new figures reflect continued losses in manufacturing jobs being outweighed by increases in jobs in the Island's leisure and hospitality industries, private education and health services, and a few other sectors.

They also suggest that job growth is continuing to slow. In February, the Long Island economy had 15,200 more jobs than a year earlier. January's gain was 14,700, December's 13,700, November's 15,100 and October's 17,800.

"We have definitely had a slowdown from the very strong growth we had in the first two years of recovery from the recession -- 2011 through 2013," said Shital Patel, state labor department market analyst for the Long Island region. "But it's still pretty solid growth, on average, for what we've seen in the past 20 years of data for Long Island."

John Rizzo, chief economist of the Long Island Association, the region's major business group, said the year-over-year picture wasn't encouraging but contended that gains in jobs from February to March in some sectors such as restaurants can't entirely be explained by an improvement in weather.

The restaurant business gained 3,300 jobs in March over February. "That's more than double the average March gain," he said. "That suggests a strong increase in discretionary spending."

The weather in March did, however, reduce construction jobs from a year earlier by about 1,000, or almost 2 percent, said Patel.

The Island lost another 600 manufacturing jobs in the year ended in March, leaving 71,300.

The education and health-services sector led employment gains with 6,300 more jobs in March compared to March 2014, raising the total to 249,000.

An additional 3,700 people were employed in travel and leisure, raising that sector to 112,200 jobs in March. Retail, one of the Island's largest sectors, gained 1,000 jobs year over year, to 156,900.

The department focuses on year-over-year changes, because the data aren't adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in employment.

Job gains were higher in New York City than on Long Island in the 12 months ended in March, the department said. The five boroughs had a total of 4.6 million jobs in March, a 2.7 percent gain from a year earlier.

"That's definitely good news for commuters, who are an important component of the Long Island workforce," said Rizzo.

Long Island's highest-paying category, financial activities, was down from a year ago by 900 jobs, to 71,300.

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