Long Island’s unemployment rate inched down to 4.2 percent in September, the first decline after four consecutive months of increases, state data released Tuesday show. In September 2016, the rate stood at 4.3 percent.
The number of employed Long Islanders jumped by 26,100 in September from a year earlier to 1.43 million, the highest total for the month since the department began using its current methodology in 1990, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.
September’s lower unemployment rate was a result of that large increase in the number of employed residents, Patel said.
It occurred while the number of unemployed residents also rose, to 63,000, up 600 from September 2016, state Labor Department data show.
The numbers in the latest report, based on a census household survey, likely indicate that more discouraged workers, those who had stopped looking for work, jumped back into the employment market because they believed their job prospects had improved. Discouraged workers aren’t counted as unemployed. But they are counted once they resume their job search, something that tends to push up the number of unemployed in a growing job market.
“The number of discouraged workers is declining because they are entering the labor force in anticipation of getting a job,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association trade group.
The sharp increase in the number of employed could indicate that many residents found work off the Island, particularly because job growth has slowed here. By contrast, job growth in New York City remains strong.
Last week the Labor Department reported that the Long Island economy was growing at an annual rate of 8,800 jobs in September, or 0.7 percent, compared with a year earlier, based on a survey of local businesses. New York City’s labor market grew 1.1 percent in the same year-over-year period.
The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.
The City of Glen Cove and Southampton Town had the lowest unemployment rate, tied at 3.8 percent. The Village of Hempstead had the highest, 4.9 percent.