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LI job growth 2nd-fastest in NY, but wages didn't keep up, report says

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli speaks during

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli speaks during the annual meeting of the Business Council of New York State at the Sagamore Resort on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Bolton Landing, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Long Island's job growth in the past five years was the second-fastest in the state -- but wages here did not keep up with inflation, according to a report released Monday.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, in a 30-page study, said employment in Nassau and Suffolk counties grew 4.9 percent between 2009 and last year. New York City's growth rate was more than double that, at 11.3 percent.

"Long Island has been able to weather this tough economic time in a more effective way than many other regions of the state," he said in an interview. "That doesn't mean that there aren't challenges" such as the loss of high-paying positions at factories and public schools.

The Island had a net gain of about 57,000 jobs over the five-year period. The largest gains were at hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses -- up 19,900 -- and at colleges, hospitals and other health care firms, which added 18,900.

The report doesn't provide county-level figures.

The Island lost jobs in the government, information and manufacturing sectors. Government payrolls shrank the most, by 12,600 jobs; public schools accounted for 5,300 of those losses.

Pay in those three sectors, on average, is higher than in many of the sectors where employment expanded.

DiNapoli, the state's chief fiscal officer, said wages overall in Nassau and Suffolk did not keep up with the combined five-year U.S. inflation rate of 10.3 percent. Local wages climbed 9 percent.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group, said the "sluggish wage growth" was due in part to a changing mix of jobs. "Much of the job growth has been in the services sector, which tends to be lower paying," he said.

The data don't include the salaries of Long Islanders who work in New York City or elsewhere.

Other state regions where wage growth didn't match the national inflation rate were the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley and Utica. In New York City, wages climbed to 14.7 percent on average.

The Island led the state in labor participation, with 67.5 percent of those eligible to work either employed or actively looking for a job. The statewide average was 63 percent in 2013, the most recent available data.

"If you are going to continue to afford to live on Long Island, you can't give up looking for a job," said DiNapoli, who lives in Great Neck Plaza. "You have no choice but to keep plugging until you secure something so you can provide for yourself and your family."

He reported there were 9.1 million jobs in New York State last year, the highest number ever. The state had a net gain of 538,000 jobs in the past five years, including 143,000 in 2014.

Four of the state's 10 regions lost jobs in the past five years: Syracuse, the Adirondacks, Binghamton and Utica.


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