A group of newly hired employees gets training at Healthplex,...

A group of newly hired employees gets training at Healthplex, a dental insurance provider in Uniondale. (May 17, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

The Long Island economy had 9,100 more jobs in May than it did a year ago, as the public sector added jobs for the first time in nine months, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

The May data reveal a second consecutive month of slow job growth on Long Island. In April, employment grew by just 4,500 from a year earlier. In contrast, in January, February and March, jobs here grew by 17,000-plus year-over-year.

Nassau and Suffolk counties had 1.260 million jobs in May, compared with 1.251 million a year earlier.

The Island had 1,000 more government jobs in May than it had a year earlier. Jobs in the public sector have been shrinking here; the last gain was a 100-job year-over-year increase in August 2011.

In the private sector, the professional and business-services category, one of Long Island's highest-paying, had the biggest gain, up 6,000 jobs from a year earlier.

The latest report shows that construction, a key industry, was down 4,700 jobs in May, the biggest year-over-year sector drop.

Long Island's 0.7 percent job growth last month was the lowest of the 10 downstate counties.

"It's a second month of slower growth, but we still had a lot of strength in the higher-paying sectors," said Shital Patel, labor market analyst at the Labor Department.

Demand from the professional and business-services sector has been strong the past couple of months at Melville-based Adecco, said Anthony Zarb, a senior branch manager for the temporary staffing company, which is the North American headquarters of its Swiss parent.

The company has seen increased demand for temp workers such as administrative assistants and customer service reps, Zarb said. But employers still remain reluctant to take on permanent hires.

"They are unsure where the economy is going to be in six months," he said.

Some employers still have trouble finding enough people to fill permanent positions. Matthew Silver, president of Ultimate Class Limousine in Hicksville, needs six full-time chauffeurs and two dispatchers. In February he rehired chauffeur Deborah Ross, 58, after she returned from an unsuccessful job hunt in California.

"I feel very grateful that there was an opening for me," she said.

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