Long Island’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent in May, the lowest for the month since 2007, state data released Tuesday show. It fell from 4.1 percent a year earlier.
The number of unemployed residents dropped by 8,200 to a total of 52,400, also the lowest for the month since 2007, Labor Department data show. The number of employed residents rose by 500 to 1.43 million, the highest total for May since at least 1990, when the department began using its current methodology.
While the data reflect a strong job market, they also indicate that the overall labor force declined. The lsland's labor force comprises the number of employed and unemployed residents. That number fell to 1.487 million from 1.495 million a year earlier.
"Combined with a steadily declining labor force resulting from the rising number of Baby Boomer retirees, Long Island's unemployment rate is nearing record-low levels," said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.
John Rizzo, a Stony Brook University economics professor and the chief economist for the Long Island Association trade group, agreed that more Baby Boomers were likely exiting the job market, resulting in the low 3.5 percent unemployment rate.
"The labor market remains quite strong but not as strong as this number would seem to indicate," he said. "It's a function of people leaving the labor force, not a function of more jobs."
The unemployment report is based on a census household survey of Long Islanders, regardless of where they work.
The Labor Department report last week showed that the Island's job market expanded at a slower rate in May than earlier in the year. That separate report, which is based on a survey of Long Island businesses, showed that the Island had 14,100 more jobs last month than a year earlier. The local employment market had expanded in April at an annual rate of 18,500 jobs.
The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted for seasonal fluctuations.
On Long Island, the City of Glen Cove and North Hempstead Town tied for the lowest jobless rate — 3.2 percent. Freeport Village's 4.2 percent was the highest.
Among the state's metro areas, Long Island had the third-lowest rate after Ithaca's 3.3 percent and New York City's 3.4 percent. Ithaca is home to Cornell University.
Those rates compare with 3.7 percent for the state and 3.6 percent for the nation in the same seasonally unadjusted period.