Long Island’s unemployment rate in January spiked to 7.8 percent, the highest since 1992, when the region was in the midst of a recession and a defense-industry was downsizing, according to a New York State Labor Department report released Thursday.
The report also had some good news. Long Island posted its smallest job losses for a 12-month period since November 2008.
The economy shed private-sector jobs at an annual rate of 9,700 in the January to January period. The department compiles job data on a year-to-year basis because they aren’t tabulated to account for seasonal factors.
The leisure and hospitality sector added the most jobs, 4,300. It bested the category that had led job gains during the recession- educational and health services, which came in second with an additional 3,000 jobs.
The Labor Department attributed the jobless-rate spike to seasonal factors, such as post-holiday layoffs at stores and restaurants and general seasonal layoffs in industries like construction and landscaping.
On the other hand, Gary Huth, the department’s principal economist for Long Island, said the job losses narrowed because employers stepped up hiring.
But he, is cautiously optimistic in his outlook.
“Based on these numbers, you’d say we are back on a growth cycle,” Huth said. “But I’m approaching it cautiously. This is one month’s worth of numbers.”