A runner passes the shuttered Sayville Florist on Railroad Avenue...

A runner passes the shuttered Sayville Florist on Railroad Avenue in Sayville. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Job growth on Long Island slowed last month as restaurants saw job loss and delivery driver hiring increased, state data reported Thursday shows.

In November, the Island reported a net increase of 7,600 jobs on a month-over-month basis, marking a 0.6% increase over October growth, according to state Labor Department data. October’s month-over-month growth came in much higher, at 18,400 jobs.

Hiring is typically higher in October than November as retail employers gear up for the holiday season.

Although November hiring was above the average November gain of 4,600 jobs, much of the increase in jobs in the retail sector came from job categories outside the traditional department store.

"While hiring at retailers has been slightly higher than normal overall, the gains have been focused at food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores like supercenters and warehouse clubs," said Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the department's Hicksville office. "Clothing stores only added 200 jobs in November compared to an average of 1,500."

Meanwhile, Patel said, "the shift towards online shopping led to record hiring of delivery drivers in the couriers and messengers industry," which hired 2,300 last month; 400 is typical.

Health care, specifically ambulatory care providers like urgent care centers and outpatient facilities, added 3,700 jobs last month, the most since June, Patel said.

Part of that growth may be due to Islanders scheduling delayed doctor visits in "anticipation of another lockdown," she said. "Urgent care centers have also been busy as people have been lining up for COVID tests ahead of the holidays."

While the larger leisure and hospitality sector has seen continued monthly losses in jobs after seeing some rebounds earlier in the year, restaurants and bars "posted their first month of job losses after six consecutive months of job gains," said Patel.

John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group, said it isn’t surprising that restaurant owners are starting to cut back in light of the colder weather, which is limiting the viability of outdoor dining.

Earlier in the year, restaurants "did have a lot more customers," Rizzo said. But with coronavirus cases increasing along with greater restrictions on dining capacity, small food and beverage businesses are feeling the pinch.

"We can expect that trend to continue through most of the winter," he said.

Also Thursday, the state released its weekly unemployment claims report.

New jobless claim on Long Island fell last week by over 13% after jumping up more than 50% the week before, state data shows, continuing a seesawing trend that has lasted most of the pandemic.

New unemployment filings on Long Island fell to 5,715 last week from 6,597 the week before. While claims remain far below levels reached earlier in the year, the number of Long Islanders filing new jobless claims remains above historic norms.

During the same week a year ago, the number of jobless filings was 2,172.

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