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Long Island jobless rate up to 4.5 percent in July, state data show

Job seeker John Blackall, center, of Holbrook, speaks

Job seeker John Blackall, center, of Holbrook, speaks with Shahrouz Torabi, of New York Life, at a career fair at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue on June 20, 2017. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Long Island’s unemployment rate inched up to 4.5 percent in July, from 4.3 percent in July 2016, state data released Tuesday show.

It was the third consecutive month of a year-over-year increase in this key measure of the local employment market’s health.

The number of both employed and unemployed residents also rose. The number of employed residents increased by 11,700 to 1.45 million. The number of jobless Long Islanders climbed by 2,900 to 67,800.

Local economists said the rise in the number of employed and unemployed residents, and in the jobless rate, could indicate that more discouraged workers, or those who had dropped out of the job market, restarted their job search because they believed their employment prospects had improved. Jobless workers looking for work are counted as unemployed, while those who stop looking are not.

“People are coming back to the labor force because labor-market conditions are fairly good here on Long Island,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the state Labor Department’s Hicksville office. “If we are going to have an increase in the unemployment rate, this is the way we want it to happen.”

John A. Rizzo, an economics professor at Stony Brook University and chief economist of the Long Island Association trade group, noted that July’s unemployment rate is among the lowest for the month since 2007 and that the number of residents employed was the highest for the month since 2008.

“All of this points to a labor market that is continuing to perform well,” he said.

The department last week reported that Long Island had 16,700 more jobs in July than a year earlier.

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

On the Island, Hempstead Village’s 5.4 percent jobless rate was the highest. Long Beach had the lowest rate, 3.6 percent.

Around the state, Nassau ranked seventh lowest, with a 4.3 percent rate. And Suffolk ranked 10th, with 4.6 percent.

New York State and New York City had seasonally unadjusted jobless rates of 4.9 percent and 5 percent, respectively, in July.

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