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Long Island’s jobless rate drops to 4.1 percent in November

Job seekers speak with prospective employers during

Job seekers speak with prospective employers during the Nassau County Mega Job Fair at Nassau Community College in Garden City Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Island’s jobless rate dropped to 4.1 percent last month, the lowest rate for a November since 2007 and a decline from 4.6 percent a year earlier, state Labor Department data released Tuesday show.

The number of employed Islanders grew to 1.41 million, up 41,300 from the previous November, the agency reported.

The labor force is at its highest level since 1990, with 1.47 million Long Islanders either employed or looking for work, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.

“The story has been the same for the last several months — that more people are returning to the labor market and those people are finding work,” Patel said.

In Nassau County, the unemployment rate was 3.8 percent last month, down 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier. Suffolk County’s jobless rate was a bit higher, at 4.2 percent, a year-over-year decline of 0.6 percentage points.

Long Beach and the town of North Hempstead had the lowest jobless rates on Long Island last month, at 3.5 percent. The town of Southampton had the highest rate: 5 percent.

Long Island has seen annual declines in joblessness every month since September 2012, Patel said. Previously, some of those declines were due to discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force, she said. When unemployed people stop looking for work, they are no longer counted in unemployment statistics.

However, in a sign that those workers are regaining hope, the labor force has been growing year-over-year since April, Patel said.

The new report is good news, although many of the new jobs are lower-paying service jobs, said John Rizzo, chief economist of the Long Island Association, a trade group.

“It’s been a lengthy, moderate recovery in terms of job growth and an uneven recovery in terms of wages,” Rizzo said.

The Island experienced solid job growth in November, with 21,200 more jobs than a year earlier, an annual increase of 1.6 percent, according to Labor Department figures released earlier this month. The biggest gain was in the education and health services sector, with a year-over-year gain of 5 percent, or 12,400 jobs, to 259,500.

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