Long Island’s unemployment rate inched up to 4.6 percent in February, the first year-over-year increase since October, data from the state Labor Department released Tuesday show. The rate stood at 4.5 percent in February 2016.
The number of unemployed Long Islanders rose by 1,000, but at the same time the number of employed residents dropped by 14,000. The big decline in the number of employed residents could indicate an increasing number of retirees leaving the workforce. Retirees are not counted among the unemployed.
“Considering that our population is graying, the accelerating pace of retirements is going to have an impact on the labor force,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.
The latest report comes after the department last week reported strong job growth for February. The Island had 30,600 more jobs last month, compared with February 2016, the biggest increase since 2013.
Because of strong job growth, the local economy is nearing full employment, Patel said. As a result, the jobless rate isn’t likely to move much in either direction for a while, she said.
“We are likely hovering near the lowest jobless rate we are going to see for this business cycle,” she said.
The Island had a total of 1.39 million employed residents last month, compared with 1.40 million the year before. The number of unemployed rose to 67,600, from 66,600.
The unemployment report is based on a Census household survey of Long Islanders regardless of where they work. The jobs data are compiled from surveys of Long Island companies.
The department uses year-over-year data because the local numbers aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors.
On the Island, the highest unemployment rate was Southampton Town’s 6.9 percent, which reflects seasonal factors, Patel said. Rockville Centre’s 3.9 percent was the lowest.
Nassau County’s jobless rate was 4.3 percent, while Suffolk’s was 4.9 percent. Around the state, Nassau had the second-lowest rate, after New York County (Manhattan) and Queens, which tied for first at 4.2 percent. Suffolk ranked eighth.
The state jobless rate was 5.1 percent and the nation’s 4.9 percent, on the same seasonally unadjusted basis.