New Census Bureau data released Thursday provide fresh evidence of the Long Island employment market's struggle to recover from the last recession.
The 2013 data show that the number of employees on local company payrolls was still below its pre-recession level. That number fell by about 20,000 in Nassau between 2006 and 2013 to a total of 532,000 employees on company payrolls. In Suffolk, that number dropped about 13,500, to 558,000.
Those declines are in line with recent monthly data from the state Labor Department that show that Long Island's labor force -- a statistic counting the number of employed and unemployed residents -- is shrinking. That number, based on a monthly census household survey, fell by 13,900 residents in March from the year before, to 1.437 million, state Labor Department data show. It was the lowest level for that month since 2003.
John A. Rizzo, chief economist of the Long Island Association, the area's largest business group, noted that the local labor market has faced a tougher recovery from the recession because more jobs have shifted overseas and to other parts of the country, and because of greater substitutions of technology for labor.
"Both those factors are making it more challenging for employment to return to its pre-recession levels," Rizzo said.
The last recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.
The latest census tally of the number of businesses located on Long Island was mixed. Nassau lost 806 businesses between 2006 and 2013, while Suffolk gained 979 during the same period. Nassau had about 48,000 businesses in 2013, compared with 49,000 in Suffolk, which exceeded its pre-recession total.
Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the Labor Department's Hicksville office, said it's not clear why the counties' job growth differed so dramatically, but she noted that Nassau suffered heavier losses in some major business sectors such as retail, finance and insurance. For example, Nassau lost 274 businesses in the finance and insurance sector between 2006 and 2013, while Suffolk gained 38.
In both counties, businesses had higher employee and payroll totals in 2013 than in 2012. Nassau gained 489 establishments and Suffolk added 484 businesses.
In Nassau, the annual payroll, which includes wages, bonuses and severance pay, rose to $26.6 billion in 2013, from $26 billion the year before. In Suffolk, the payroll rose to $27.8 billion from $27 billion.