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Long Island jobless rate drops to 3.0%

Job seekers meet with recruiters in Wyandanch earlier

Job seekers meet with recruiters in Wyandanch earlier this month. Long Island's jobless rate fell to 3.0 percent in April, the lowest rate for April since 2001, according to state data. Credit: Johnny Milano

Long Island’s jobless rate fell to 3.0 percent in April, down 0.6 percentage points year over year, state Labor Department data released Tuesday show. It was the lowest unemployment rate the Island has seen for April in 20 years, tying with the percentage recorded in April 1999 and 2000.

The Island’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in April 2018.

“Overall a low unemployment rate and the resulting tight labor market could really lead to a lot of positives for our region,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. “There should also be more opportunities for people on the fringes of the labor force, like the long-term unemployed.”

Nassau tied with Columbia County for the lowest jobless rate among the state’s 62 counties, dropping 0.6 percentage points year over year to 2.9 percent last month, the lowest it has been since 1999, when it hit 2.7 percent.

The unemployment rate in Suffolk County dropped to 3.1 percent, a 0.7 percentage point decrease from April last year. The last time Suffolk saw a jobless rate that low for the month was in April 2000.

While low unemployment bodes well for the region’s economy, the resulting tight labor market can create challenges for hiring managers, said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group.

“Right now, it’s clear the labor market is a seller’s market,”  Rizzo said. “It’s a sign of a strong economy. That’s good news. For hiring, it does present some challenges.”

Amid a tight labor market, Rizzo said, it would be expected that employers would have more difficulty finding the number of employees they need, and that those with specialized skill sets would be even more challenging to recruit.

Rizzo said ultimately the market, which has seen increased labor participation, would lead to “more upward pressure on wages” and the use of other benefits, like flexible work hours, as employee draws.

“This is a good problem to have,” he said. “It’s certainly better than high unemployment.”

Among the state’s metro regions, Long Island tied with Ithaca for the lowest unemployment rates in the state. New York City posted a jobless rate of 3.7 percent for April.

On Long Island, the city of Long Beach and North Hempstead Town tied for the lowest unemployment rate of any local municipality at 2.7 percent. Southampton Town’s 3.9 percent rate was the highest on the Island.

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