Long Island’s job growth slowed sharply in the 12-month period that ended in October, state data released Thursday show.
The slowdown is a sign that further gains in a strong job market are getting tougher to produce, an economist said.
The Island had 4,200 more jobs last month than in October 2016, the state Labor Department said. That was less than half of the 9,800 year-over-year job increase for September, and is the slowest month for job growth so far this year.
The number of employed residents is at record levels, said economist John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association trade group, referring to a department report released last month. That report also showed an Island unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, which Rizzo said indicates a labor market at or near full employment.
“So slower jobs growth is not very surprising,” he said.
The private-education and health-services sector led job growth in October, with 9,900 more jobs; health care accounted for 8,900 of them.
The professional and business-services sector lost the most jobs, down 3,000. That sector, which includes lawyers and accountants, is one of the Island’s highest paying. It shrank largely because of a sharp drop in jobs at companies that provide support services to employers such as staffing, clerical work and waste disposal. Those jobs are often considered a bellwether of the health of a job market.
But a local economist cautioned against reading too much into that sector’s decline. “The administrative/support category includes temporary help agencies, and those are subject to sudden month-to-month swings in employment,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost the second-highest number of jobs, 2,800. The performance of two of its subsectors reflects changing consumer habits, a local economist said.
Employment shrank at brick-and-mortar retail operations — down 4,800 jobs in the latest report. But internet purchases boosted the transportation and warehousing subsector, which grew by 2,500 jobs.
“While store closures have led to declines in retail employment, growth in online shopping has led to increases in employment in the transportation and warehousing industry,” Patel said.
The Island’s private sector added 4,100 jobs while the government sector grew by 100. The Island had 1.351 million jobs last month, compared with 1.347 million in October 2016.
The September number was revised up from the 8,800-job increase the department originally released.
The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.
CORRECTION: Long Island added 9,800 jobs in September, the state Labor Department said, revised from its prior estimate of 8,800. An earlier version of this story online misstated the month.