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LI January job growth strong; 2013 data revised down

Anthony Inzirillo, project manager for Racanelli Construction Co.,

Anthony Inzirillo, project manager for Racanelli Construction Co., at the company's Melville headquarters on Thursday, March 6, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Long Island began 2014 with strong job growth, but revisions for 2013 show a weaker job market last year than first reported, state Labor Department data released Thursday show.

In January, the Island had 17,500 more jobs than the year before. That growth ramped up from December's year-over-year, revised increase of 12,300 jobs. But both were considerably less than the 26,500-job increase originally reported by the Labor Department for December.

The revisions also show that the local employment market was considerably weaker than initially reported in the first three months of 2013. For example, revised January 2013 data show a year-over-year increase of just 7,300 jobs, less than a third of the 26,200 the department originally reported.

The revised data represent a more complete picture of the actual number of jobs on Long Island because they are drawn from a much wider universe of businesses that pay unemployment-insurance taxes, rather than the sampling of companies used for preliminary results. The department uses year-over-year comparisons because the data aren't adjusted to reflect seasonal swings in employment.

Overall employment rose to 1.25 million jobs in January, up from 1.23 million. Lower-wage sectors led growth. The trade, transportation and utilities sector had the biggest increase, with 7,100 more jobs, primarily because of retail's 4,200-job increase.

After growing last year, construction, a high-wage sector, shrank by 1,300 jobs year over year. Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office, said two things weighed on the construction numbers in January: The year-earlier number was boosted by superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts and cold weather curbed construction this year.

"You have an impact from the stronger-than-normal activity a year ago and the bad weather this month that would depress activity," Patel said.

Anthony Inzirillo found employment in mid-November as a project manager at Racanelli Construction Co. in Melville. He had lost a similar job after 13 years when his employer closed down. He said it took him a couple of weeks to find the Racanelli job.

"I have known a lot of people in the industry, and I always felt confident that I would be employed again fairly soon," the Brookhaven resident said.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department will release the Island's January unemployment rate. The rate was 7.9 percent in January 2013, the highest last year, unrevised data show.

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