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Long Island Leading State's Economic Recovery

The reasons are varied, but the indications are toward continued job growth here.

Long Island is leading the charge in the economic recovery in New York State.

That’s according to the Labor Department reports, released Tuesday, which said that Long Island had the lowest unemployment rate in the state’s 10 regions.

At the same time the Island added 20,800 private sector jobs – the largest February gain since 1990, according to the Labor Department.

Still, Long Island’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in February, up .1 percent from a year ago. Yet the region out-performed the rest of the state, which was at 9.2 percent, and the nation at 8.7 percent.

It’s not clear why Long Island’s rate is lower than the rest of the state.

Contributing factors may include a decline in the region’s workforce since 2008 due to discouraged workers, an increase in retiring workers and people moving off Long Island, said Shital Patel, an analyst for the state Labor Department in Hicksville.

However, there was some good news for discouraged workers. February saw the second consecutive month of 2.1 percent year-over-year private sector job growth, which could mean brighter prospects for job seekers.

Unemployment in Oyster Bay was down slightly from January to February, from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent. In February 2011, Oyster Bay's rate was also at 6.6 percent, among the lowest rates on Long Island.

There were 9,800 Oyster Bay residents listed as unemployed in February, about 100 less than the previous month, according to the state figures.

In Nassau County, the unemployment rate held steady at 7.3 percent in both February and January. It was at 7.2 percent a year ago.  There were 48,900 Nassau County residents listed as unemployed in February, down from 49,000 in January, and 48,100 a year ago.

Big gains included 9,800 jobs in professional and business services, with 4,300 of those jobs in the professional, scientific and technical category, which tends to include higher paying occupations such as lawyers and architects.

Other bright spots included health care and social assistance, which added 5,000 jobs.

Construction, and specialty trade contractors took hits, as did local government employees who were working in education and hospitals.

And while unemployment on Long Island did increase, Patel noted, “it was only one month, at one-tenth of a percent.”

Like others, Patel will watch for next month to see any emerging trends. 

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