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LI jobless rate drops to 3.3%; lowest in more than a decade 

Mahibul Roni, left, of Astoria, talks with Ryan

Mahibul Roni, left, of Astoria, talks with Ryan Weaver, general manager of Chipotle Mexican Grill, during a job fair at Hicksville Career Center in Hicksville on Oct. 12. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Long Island’s unemployment rate fell to 3.3 percent in September, the lowest level in more than a decade, state data released Tuesday show. 

The low level of unemployment has left some local employers and staffing companies struggling to find enough qualified workers.  

The last time the jobless rate was 3.3 percent was in 2007, before the Great Recession hit. The rate is now less than half the 8.2 percent peak, reached in 2010 and in 2012, following the recession that ended in June 2009. 

Tuesday's unemployment rate was down a full percentage point from September 2017, when it stood at 4.3 percent. 

"The data suggest that Long Island's labor market remains very strong," said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. 

The decline comes after a Labor Department report released last week showed job growth slowing on the Island. Long Island had 10,000 more jobs in September than a year earlier. That year over year job gain in August was 15,800. 

The data in the latest report on the unemployment rate were based on a census survey of Long Island residents, regardless of where they work. Last week's job statistics were derived from a survey of Long Island businesses. 

The number of unemployed residents dropped by 14,800 from a year earlier to 50,000, the lowest for the month of September since 2000. The number of employed grew by 21,400 to a total of 1.46 million, a record high for the month. 

The numbers bode well for the holiday season, said John A. Rizzo, economics professor at Stony Brook University and chief economist for the Long Island Association trade group. 

"This is a very strong labor market report that should serve to increase consumer confidence and spending as the holiday season approaches," Rizzo said.

But the low jobless rate also makes it difficult for some companies to fill open positions. 

"We're hurting for everything," said Ron Axelrad, chief executive of Access Staffing, a Manhattan-based company with an office in Melville.

He said the shortages include nurses, health aides, information-technology workers and office-support employees such as administrative assistants and receptionists.

He said he advises companies that "if they find a good candidate they have to move on them quickly. Otherwise, they are going to find a job somewhere else."

He is also telling clients they need to improve their pay to attract talent.

"The one thing that really hasn't come along with all these jobs is matching pay rates," said Axelrad, whose company places permanent and temporary workers.

Among the state's metro areas, Long Island tied with Ithaca, the home of Cornell University, for the lowest jobless rate in the state.

 On Long Island, four municipalities had an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, the lowest here: North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Smithtown and Southampton. Freeport Village's 4 percent rate was the highest on the Island. 

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