Job seeker Bill McCabe, of Port Jefferson, speaks with Spresime...

Job seeker Bill McCabe, of Port Jefferson, speaks with Spresime Bekteshi, recruiter, and Joanne Cossentino, senior staffing specialist of Lloyd Staffing, about employment opportunities during the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center mini job fair, on Feb. 10, 2017. Credit: Heather Walsh

Long Island’s January unemployment rate inched down 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier to 4.4 percent, the lowest for the month since 2007, preliminary state data released Tuesday show.

Nassau County’s 4.1 percent rate was the lowest in the state, followed by Queens, with 4.2 percent, the Labor Department said. Suffolk came in seventh, with 4.7 percent.

Despite the improvement, both the number of employed and unemployed residents declined, which could indicate that increased numbers of people dropped out of the work force, such as retirees. People who have stopped looking for work aren’t included in the unemployment statistics.

“It could be that the pace of retirements has accelerated,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office.

The Island had 64,200 unemployed residents in January, down 1,800 from a year earlier. The number of employed residents fell by 9,100 to 1.39 million.

The latest report comes on the heels of Labor Department data released last week that showed that the local economy had 27,900 more jobs in January than the year before, the biggest increase since 2013.

The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.

The jobs data are based on surveys of Long Island businesses. The unemployment and employment statistics are drawn from a census household survey that asks the job status of residents regardless of where they work.

On Long Island, Smithtown had the lowest unemployment rate, 3.7 percent. Southampton Town had the highest, at 6.7 percent

The state’s jobless rate was 5 percent and the nation’s 5.1 percent in January, on the same seasonally unadjusted basis.

Around the state, upstate Hamilton County had the highest jobless rate — 9.4 percent

The Labor Department will release February employment and unemployment statistics later this month.

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