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State: LI jobless rate falls to 3.2 percent in May

An attendee speaks with a recruiter at a

An attendee speaks with a recruiter at a job fair hosted by the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center, at the East Hampton Library in East Hampton on April 12. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Long Island’s jobless rate fell to 3.2 percent last month, a 0.1 percentage point drop from the same time last year, state Labor Department data released Tuesday show. It was the lowest unemployment rate the Island has seen for the month of May since 2001.

The Island’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in May 2018.

“Overall, again this is a good report,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. “Our labor force continues to expand so people are moving off the sidelines and re-entering the labor force and finding jobs.”

Nassau County had the third lowest unemployment rate among the state’s 62 counties, dropping 0.2 percentage points year over year to 3.1 percent last month.

The jobless rate in Suffolk County dropped to 3.2 percent, a 0.2-percentage-point decrease from May last year.

The region’s low unemployment rate “underscores the continued strength of the labor market,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, in an email. Still, he said, the rate “also suggests that a continued tight labor market could make it challenging to match workers with jobs in some sectors of the labor market.”

Patel said that a low unemployment rate resulting in a tight labor market could lead to greater competition among businesses for employees and, eventually, higher pay and better benefits for workers.

At the same time, “there’s some pitfalls as well,” she said. “If businesses can’t find enough qualified workers to satisfy the demand they are seeing from customers, that can eventually translate to slower economic growth.”

Among the state’s metro regions, Long Island tied with Ithaca, Dutchess-Putnam and Albany-Schenectady-Troy regions for the lowest unemployment rates in the state. New York City posted a jobless rate of 4.2 percent for May, a 0.6-percentage-point increase year over year.

On Long Island, the city of Long Beach, North Hempstead Town and Lindenhurst Village tied for the lowest unemployment rate of any local municipality at 2.9 percent. Valley Stream Village’s 3.8 percent rate was the highest on the Island.

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