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Long Island's jobless rate drops to 3.8 percent

Long Island's unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in August, from 4.6 percent in August 2017, state data released Tuesday show.

The current jobless rate is the lowest for the month since the 3.8 percent in August 2007, before the recession that began in December of that year. 

The number of employed residents rose by 13,700, to 1.46 million, the highest for the month since at least 1990, when the Labor Department began using its current methodology. The number of unemployed residents fell by 11,200 to a total of 58,000, also the lowest for August since 2007.

"Long Island’s labor-market picture remained strong in August," said Shital Patel, a labor-market analyst in the department's Hicksville office.  

The latest data follow a separate state Labor Department report issued last week showing strengthening job growth on the Island. Nassau and Suffolk counties had 15,200 more jobs in August than a year earlier. That increase topped July's annualized growth rate of 12,800 jobs.

The earlier report is based on a survey of Long Island companies. Tuesday's report is based on a census survey of local households, regardless of where the occupants work.  

Despite the strong job market here and nationwide, wages still remain largely stagnant, said Martin Melkonian, associate professor of economics at Hofstra University.

Outsourcing, automation and the declining power of unions have kept a lid on wage increases, he said. 

"The workforce  is continuing to suffer, and they have not fully recovered from the last recession," he said. "We are hopeful that will turn around, but I don't see signs of it." 

The median hourly wage for Long Island rose to $20.82 in May 2017, from $20.31 in May 2016, a rise of about 2.5 percent, the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Year-over-year comparisons for local data are used because they aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.

On Long Island, the City of Long Beach had the lowest jobless rate last month, at 3.2 percent. Freeport Village and Babylon Town tied for the highest — 4.5 percent. 

Among the state's metro areas, upstate Glens Falls had the lowest unemployment rate — 3.5 percent. The highest was the 4.6 percent in Watertown-Fort Drum and Binghamton. The state's rate was 4.1 percent and the nation's was 3.9 percent in the same seasonally unadjusted period.  

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