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LI jobless rate drops below 4% for first time since 2007

Recruiters from First in Service Staffing Solutions, Amy

Recruiters from First in Service Staffing Solutions, Amy Ekren, Shalene Robinson, and Maria Rodriguez, interview candidates at the job fair presented by The Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center, at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library, on April 20, 2016. Credit: Heather Walsh

Long Island’s unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April, the lowest level in nine years, state data released Tuesday show.

The rate is now below the 4 percent threshold that many economists define as full employment. In a full-employment economy, all eligible people who want a job can find one.

In April 2015 the Island’s jobless rate stood at 4.4 percent.

The latest decline came after the state Labor Department last week, in a separate survey, reported relatively strong, but slower, job growth on Long Island for April. The local economy had 14,700 more jobs than in April 2015, the slowest growth since December’s year-over-year increase of 8,600 jobs.

The number of unemployed residents dropped by 6,900 to a total of 58,000, the lowest level for April since 2007. Meanwhile, the number of employed Long Islanders jumped by 22,900 to 1.42 million, the most for the month since 2008.

“This points to improvements in the labor market,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, said the latest report bodes well for future economic activity here.

“This is further evidence of Long Island’s strong labor market and a positive sign for consumer spending and economic growth going forward,” Rizzo said.

Preliminary data in December also showed a dip in the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent, but the number was later revised to 4 percent.

Despite the employment market’s improvements, wages here continue to stagnate, following a nationwide trend that has confounded economists.

“You would think that we would eventually have some increase in wages, but we have yet to really see that,” Patel said.

Long Island’s unemployment rate has been trending down year over year since September 2012, when the rate climbed as high as 7.1 percent. It soared as high as 8.2 percent in 2010 and 2012, in the aftermath of the severe recession that ended in June 2009.

The Island’s unemployment rate is based on surveys of local households. Those residents live on Long Island but they do not all work locally. Last week’s numbers on jobs were drawn from a survey of businesses here.

Around the Island, the Village of Freeport had the highest jobless rate at 5 percent. The City of Long Beach and North Hempstead Town both had the lowest rate, 3.4 percent.

Nassau’s rate dropped to 3.7 percent from, 4.2 percent a year earlier. In Suffolk the rate fell to 4.1 percent, from 4.7 percent in April 2015.

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

Around the state, Nassau tied with Columbia, Putnam and Saratoga Counties for the second-lowest jobless rate. Tompkins County, the home of Cornell University, had the lowest unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent. Suffolk tied with Orange County for fifth place.

The Island’s overall 3.9 percent rate compares with 4.8 percent for New York City, 4.6 percent for the state and 4.7 percent for the nation, all on the same seasonally unadjusted basis.

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