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LI job market continues in slow growth mode, data shows

Emma DePiro, 22, of Massapequa, interviews with a

Emma DePiro, 22, of Massapequa, interviews with a rep from H2m engineering and architecture, during a job fair at the Launchpad headquarters in Huntington, July 25, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

Growth in Long Island’s job market continues its slow pace, data released Thursday show.

The local economy had 8,800 more jobs in September, compared with September 2016, the state Labor Department said.

Last month’s gain was virtually unchanged from August’s year-over-year growth of 8,500 jobs. The August number was revised upward from preliminary data that showed a gain of 6,600 jobs that month.

The recent figures contrast sharply with tallies for some earlier months this year, when year-over-year gains reached nearly 30,000 jobs.

“While Long Island continues to reach record levels of private-sector jobs, the pace of growth has weakened somewhat,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.

In fact, the Island may be experiencing growing pains, with its low unemployment rate and record number of jobs.

“Companies across a variety of sectors have reported having a hard time filling open positions, which may be limiting potential job growth,” Patel said.

In September, the private-education and health-services sector continued to lead employment gains, with 9,500 more jobs. Health care accounted for 9,100 of that total. Construction shrank the most — down 2,300 jobs.

Month-to-month numbers, which can indicate future trends in the job market, showed some unusually big declines.

The private sector lost 8,300 jobs between August and September, when it typically sheds an average 2,900, Patel said.

That reflects in large part what happened in the leisure and hospitality sector, which declined by 13,000 jobs between August and September, compared with an average loss of 6,100 for that period, Patel said.

“However, this was on the heels of a strong spring and summer hiring season that added 32,500 jobs, compared to an average of 23,200,” Patel said.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association trade group, concurred.

“I don’t think that is too concerning,” he said. The monthly decline in leisure and hospitality “reflects that there was strong growth in the summer.”

The Island’s 0.7 percent job growth for September, compares with 0.9 percent for the state, 1.1 percent for New York City and 1.2 percent for the nation.

The Island had 1.344 million jobs in September, up from 1.335 million jobs a year earlier.

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

The Labor Department will release the September unemployment rate on Tuesday. The jobless rate inched up to 4.4 percent in August, from 4.2 percent the year before.

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