Nassau and Suffolk counties showed mixed results in a federal report released Wednesday that looks at wage and employment growth in the nation’s 344 largest counties in the first quarter.
Nassau’s year-over-year 2.4 percent growth in average weekly wages in the quarter that ended in March ranked it 24th in the survey, and Suffolk’s 1.2 percent gain ranked it 79th, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. Those both compare with a 0.5 percent decrease in the average weekly wage for the entire nation.
The national decline in wages was only the seventh since BLS began the county employment and wage series in 1978, the agency said.
First-quarter weekly wages averaged $1,128 in Nassau, $1,060 in Suffolk and $1,043 nationwide.
The Island’s wage gains reflect growth in higher-paying jobs such as construction and hospital employment, said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the state Labor Department’s Hicksville office.
And a declining unemployment rate is starting to put more pressure on wages to grow, Patel said. The rate dropped to 4.2 percent in July, from 4.8 percent a year earlier.
“We see evidence that low unemployment rates in the region are beginning to put upward pressure on wages,” Patel said.
The number of jobs in Nassau rose 2.2 percent between March 2015 and March 2016, according to the report. The rise surpassed the nation’s 2 percent gain for the period, but the county ranked 150th among the largest counties.
In Suffolk the number of jobs rose 1.5 percent, ranking it 224th.
Nassau had 614,000 jobs, versus 635,900 in Suffolk.
Nassau fared better than New York County, which is Manhattan, in employment and wage growth on a percentage basis. New York’s 1.9 percent job growth ranked it 176th. Its 1.9 percent decrease in wages ranked it 264th.
“The financial activities sector weighed heavily in terms of the decline,” said Bruce Bergman, economist in BLS’ Manhattan office.