Long Island’s job growth has weakened the most in more than seven years, data released Thursday show.
The Island had 6,600 more jobs in August than a year earlier, the smallest gain in year-over-year employment since August 2010, state Labor Department statistics show. The 0.5 percent employment growth last month trailed the state’s 1.6 percent and the nation’s 1.5 percent in the same year-over-year period.
A Labor Department economist said the pullback flies in the face of the strong economic factors still underpinning the job market, but she cautioned against predicting trends from one month’s data.
“The August report represented a slowdown in job growth, although job openings remain high, and companies report they are still hiring,” said Shital Patel, labor-market analyst in the department’s Hicksville office. “We need a few more months of data under our belts before we draw conclusions about what the trends are.”
But another local economist said the slowdown isn’t all bad news because when employment is so strong, it’s hard to continue to have big gains.
“With the number of persons employed already near record highs, some decline is not unexpected,” said John A. Rizzo, a Stony Brook University economics professor and chief economist of the Long Island Association trade group.
Just three of the Island’s nine private sectors gained jobs. The private-education and health-services sector led gains, with 6,800 more jobs. Leisure and hospitality came in second with 3,800 more jobs. A sector dubbed “other services,” which includes personal and laundry services, added 200 jobs.
The government sector expanded by 1,000 jobs.
Some month-to-month numbers don’t bode well for the job market’s future performance. Long Island’s private sector plummeted by 9,200 jobs from July to August. A drop of 1,400 jobs from July to August is more typical, Patel said.
Construction shed 2,400 jobs, when it typically adds 300.
“Construction had a surprisingly weak month,” Patel said.
Rizzo found the drop in construction jobs worrisome. It “is not a positive sign for the real estate sector,” he said.
The Island had a total of 1.343 million jobs in August, compared with 1.337 million a year earlier.
The department focuses on year-over-year comparisons because local data aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in employment.
Around the state, New York City’s 2.1 percent growth rate was the strongest.
The Labor Department will release the August unemployment rate on Tuesday. Long Island’s July jobless rate inched up to 4.5 percent, from 4.3 percent in July 2016.