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31,700 jobs added on Long Island in November

Job seekers at a career fair at the

Job seekers at a career fair at the Melville Marriott on Dec. 12, 2013. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Long Island posted its strongest employment gain for the year last month -- adding 31,700 jobs compared with the year-ago period, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

Growth in the private sector was also at a yearly high in November, with 31,900 more jobs year over year. A loss of 200 government jobs nicked Long Island's overall employment gains.

The job-increase calculation was likely affected by the impact of superstorm Sandy, which hit Long Island at the end of October and may have resulted in job losses in November 2012, said Shital Patel, a labor market analyst in the state Labor Department's Hicksville office. For example, employment among specialty trade contractors -- electricians, carpenters and others whose work may have been delayed last year after Sandy -- grew by 6,500, a 14.7 percent increase.

Employment in professional and business services and in the health and education sector led the local gains, adding 10,400 and 10,000 jobs respectively.

While November's job figure was strong, local economists said Long Island's economic outlook is still uncertain.

"I think what we're seeing . . . is a fragile, uneven recovery -- some months the trends are up, some months they're lower," said John Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group.

Continued uncertainty at the federal level, especially in how much more the Federal Reserve will pull back, as it did this week, from its bond-buying stimulus of the economy, also makes it hard to gauge if the recovery will strengthen, said Martin Melkonian, economics professor at Hofstra University.

"I'm encouraged by this, and I'm hopeful it'll continue but I'm not optimistic it will, given overall tenor of the American economy," he said.

Still, employment on Long Island grew 2.5 percent year-over-year in November -- the second highest rate in New York State, after New York City. It was also higher than the state's rate of 1.9 percent and the nation's 2.1 percent.

Rizzo said certain aspects of Long Island's economy -- a well-educated workforce and a large segment focused on health care, often considered a recession-resistant industry -- are conducive to a continued recovery.

November marked the 42nd consecutive month that Long Island has seen a year-over-year uptick in jobs.

The Labor Department will release Long Island's November unemployment rate Tuesday, Dec. 24. The figure in October was 5.9 percent, the first time it had fallen below 6 percent since 2008.

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