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Building activity on Long Island pushes construction employment to record high 

Construction workers welding on a jobsite in the

Construction workers welding on a jobsite in the heat in Riverhead on Monday, June 18, 2018. Credit: Randee Daddona

Building activity on Long Island in the past year has resulted in the biggest increase in the number of construction jobs since 2013, when the Island was rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, the state Labor Department said Thursday. 

Job growth overall in July slowed from recent months. 

Construction jobs grew by 6,800 in Nassau and Suffolk counties between July 2017 and last month, state Labor Department data show. The sector last showed that kind of strength in August 2013, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. 

The number of jobs in the sector — 90,400 — is the highest since at least 1990, when the department began using its current methodology. 

"Construction activity is still strong across the region," Patel said.   

Mitchell Pally, chief executive of the Long Island Builders Institute in Islandia, said the Island is in the midst of a multifamily, assisted-living and over-55 housing boom.

"Those communities are being built and they are being filled; rental housing is being built downtown and being filled," he said. "So far we have been able to continue to hire because the housing market is very strong in all of its facets."

Overall, however, Long Island's job growth slowed last month. 

The Island had 12,500 more jobs in July than in July 2017. That number slowed from the 15,200 year-over-year job increase in June. And June's increase was revised lower from the department's 15,600 preliminary estimate.

The high for the year so far was posted in April, when the local employment market was growing at an annual rate of 18,500 jobs. 

The leisure and hospitality sector ranked second in job growth last month, adding 4,600 jobs. 

"The leisure and hospitality sector performed well, pointing to a strong summer tourism season,"  said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group. 

The private-education and health-services sector, which was the Island's long-time job-growth leader and helped power its recovery from the last recession, added 2,600 jobs.

The private-education and health-services slowdown could be due to a worker shortage, Patel said. State data show far more openings than applicants, she said.

For example, there are 81 applicants for 768 registered nurse job openings, she said. Other health occupations with a high ratio of openings to applicants are physicans assistants, occupational therapists, physical therapists, labor technologists, social and human-service assistants, home-health and personal care aides.

 "Our official jobs numbers showed a slowing in the growth of health-care employment over the past year," Patel said.

The Island had a total of1.369 million jobs in July, up from 1.356 million a year before.  The department uses year-over-year data because local statistics aren't adjusted for seasonal swings in employment.    

The Island's 0.9 percent job growth lagged the state's and the nation's 1.6 percent gain in the same seasonally unadjusted period. Among the state's metro areas, Ithaca, the home of Cornell University, posted the strongest job growth — 3.6 percent. 

The department will release the July unemployment rate on Tuesday. In June the rate fell to  3.8 percent from 4.3 percent a year earlier.  

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