Long Island had more employed residents in August than it did the same month in 2019, according to state jobs data.
The Island's number of employed residents grew to 1.5 million last month, 2,700 residents, or 0.2%, higher than in August 2019, according to state Labor Department data released Tuesday.
Last year the number of employed residents was 1.43 million.
The Island’s unemployment rate declined over the year to 3.4% in August, tying for the lowest rate for that month since 2000, according to the Labor Department. Nassau’s jobless rate was 3.3% in August, down from 4.4% last year and Suffolk’s rate fell to 3.5% from 4.5% a year ago.
The Island’s jobless rate was 4.4% in August 2021.
“Since April, the unemployment rate has hit record lows for the month and the number of employed Long Islanders has consistently hit record highs,” said Shital Patel, labor market analyst with the Labor Department’s Hicksville office.
“The last time the unemployment rate was 3.4% in August was in 2000 and in 1998 before that,” Patel said. “The number of unemployed was its lowest since 2000.”
John Rizzo, economist and Stony Brook University professor, said the new numbers are strong and a good sign for the Island’s job seekers.
“They indicate that more people are looking for jobs and they’re getting them,” Rizzo said. “The economy has been recovering from the pandemic.”
On a month-to-month basis, the Island’s jobless rate did increase slightly from 3.3% in July, though both Rizzo and Patel said the increase is in line with the typical shedding of jobs following the summer season.
The Island usually sees the number of employed residents fall by 9,200 in August, whereas this year it fell by 12,200, Patel said.
The jobless numbers come on the heels of the state’s monthly report on jobs creation for the Island, which showed the leisure and hospitality sector leading the region in terms of jobs gained.
“The restaurants are booming,” said Mark Irgang, past president of the Long Island Hospitality Association. Irgang said over the past summer, businesses in the hospitality sector have seen foot traffic improve greatly over 2021 and 2020, though challenges persist.
“Restaurants and hotels are still struggling to have the proper staff to cover the volume,” he said.
Irgang, who is opening two Marriott hotels at Kennedy Airport, said his staff recently received hundreds of applications for front desk positions, though only a fraction of those were from job seekers with experience in the industry.
“There are definitely people looking for jobs and are willing to work, but they might not be the exact people we're looking for,” he said. “It makes you scratch your head a little bit asking, ‘Where are all the hospitality people?’”
The municipalities with the highest and lowest unemployment rates on the Island last month were the villages of Freeport and Hempstead, both at 4.4%, and the Town of Southampton at 2.8%.