Long Island’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 12.9% in June as jobless Islanders began re-entering the labor force in hopes of finding work, state data released Tuesday show.
The June jobless rate inched up 0.6 percentage points from the 12.3% unemployment rate reported in May. By comparison, the Island's jobless rate in June last year was 3.4%.
By comparison, New York City reported a jobless rate of 20.4%.
Overall, the state reported a jobless rate of 15.6%, well above the nation's 11.2%.
Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office, said the increase was likely due to more out-of-work Long Islanders entering the labor force after not actively looking for work in May.
“In June, as Long Island was reopening and job prospects improved, more people were re-entering the labor force but hadn’t yet found work, which led to a slight uptick in the monthly unemployment rate,” Patel said.
“People who were on the sidelines because they didn’t feel comfortable looking for work during the pandemic have re-entered the labor force,” she said.
The jobless rate was 13% in Nassau County and 12.9% in Suffolk last month. The municipality with the highest unemployment rate was the Freeport Village, which reported a jobless rate of 16.4%. Second to Freeport, the villages of Hempstead and Valley Stream both had a rate of 15.9%.
Steven Kent, economics professor at Molloy College and a former Goldman Sachs analyst, said that the month-over-month increase is not as concerning as the overall picture of unemployment on the Island.
Small increases or decreases on a month-to-month basis may be due to statistical volatility more than anything else.
“Sometimes there is month-to-month volatility in unemployment numbers, especially when we look into a very concentrated market” like Long Island, he said. “I’m not sure it shows any dramatic change in unemployment.
“To me the biggest issue is we are still above 12% unemployment in Nassau and Suffolk,” Kent said. “That is a dramatic increase and one to be concerned about.”
Rob Basso, chief executive of Associated Human Capital Management in Plainview, which handles payroll and HR functions for about 1,000 small and mid-size firms in the tristate area, said he was “surprised to see” that the rate had risen.
Basso said, based on what he has seen with the firms he serves, that employers are starting to hire again at rates comparable to the months before the pandemic.
“I go back to the hiring numbers and some of the conversations I’ve had with business owners outside of the hospitality industry. They’re feeling a little more confident than they were 2 months ago,” he said. “I don’t think that this small statistical downturn is going to stunt our continued recovery.”