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Report: Pace of job growth continues to slow

It took newly minted lawyer Erin Lynch, 27,

It took newly minted lawyer Erin Lynch, 27, a year to find a job. The Forest Hills resident joined Franklin, Gringer & Cohen in Garden City in May after graduating from law school in May 2012. (July 17, 2013) Credit: Johnny Milano

The local economy gained 19,400 jobs in June, compared with a year earlier, the state Labor Department said Thursday. But the pace of job growth continued to slow.

June's increase was considerably smaller than the 25,300 jobs added year-over-year in May. And that month slowed from April's year-over-year gain of 27,200 jobs.

Lower-wage sectors led employment growth in June, a trend that has characterized this recovery and worried economists. The leisure and hospitality sector grew the most, up 7,000 jobs, compared with a year earlier. The trade, transportation and utilities sector, which includes retail, expanded by 6,800 jobs.

The leisure sector's increase could reflect a variety of factors, such as a greater number of people vacationing closer to home and more restaurant chains and hotels opening locations here, said James Brown, principal economist in the department's Manhattan office.

"I think we're having a pretty good tourism season on Long Island," he said.

The trade sector received its biggest employment boost from retail, which had 6,200 more jobs year over year.

"We welcome any job growth, but we would like to see more in the higher-paying jobs," said Gregory DeFreitas, who heads Hofstra University's labor studies program.

The government sector, noted for higher wages, continued to be the biggest drag on employment last month, losing 3,500 jobs, mostly because of public-school layoffs.

The private sector gained 22,900 jobs, a 2.1 percent gain, but government losses cut overall employment growth to 19,400, just a 1.5 percent uptick. That compares with 1.1 percent job growth for the state and 1.9 percent in New York City.

Brown said the private sector here is on track to post a 2 percent employment increase for the year.

"We haven't seen 2 percent a year for a while," he said.

The department uses year-over-year comparisons because local data aren't adjusted to account for monthly, seasonal fluctuations.

The report had other bright spots. DeFreitas noted that legal services, also a higher-wage sector, gained 600 jobs on the Island, while in New York City the sector lost 1,400 jobs.

Still, finding a job in that industry can be challenging on the Island.

Newly minted lawyer Erin Lynch, 27, knows that firsthand. After graduating from law school in May of last year, it took her until May of this year to land a position. In mid-May, the Forest Hills resident joined Franklin, Gringer & Cohen in Garden City.

"I didn't expect that it would take as long as it did," she said.

The department will release the Island's unemployment rate on Tuesday. The rate has declined sharply in the past three months. In May it dropped to 6.1 percent from 7.2 percent a year earlier.

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