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Steady Decline in Unemployment

Financial services adding jobs along with seasonal recreation positions

Long Island’s economy may be headed in the right direction. Yet, the region is taking its time getting there. That’s according to Michael Crowell, senior economist for

Unemployment in both Nassau County and the Town of Oyster Bay dipped slightly in April, according to recent Labor Department statistics, the latest of which was released on Tuesday.

In the , the unemployment rate for April was 5.8 percent, down from 5.9 percent a month ago. It was 6.4 percent in April 2010. There were 8,833 Oyster Bay residents listed as unemployed last month, compared to 8,983 in March, and 9,904 a year ago.

In Nassau, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in April, down from 6.6 percent in March. It was at 6.8 percent in April 2010.  There were 42,352 Nassau County residents listed as unemployed in April, down from 44,625 in March, and 46,800 a year ago.

But for the first time in months, private sector job growth across Long Island has slowed. In April, for instance, 6,200 jobs were added. But in March and earlier in the year, the region was adding 10,000 jobs or more a month. That’s still a far cry from pre-recession days, though, when Long Island was adding 17,000 to 18,000 jobs a month, Crowell said.

Crowell said he was more pleased with the current unemployment numbers than the job numbers.

“It’s been a year since the unemployment rate increased,” Crowell noted

“That said, it’s still twice what it was four years ago,” he said, referring to the period before the recent recession.

A bright spot in the April report included the “financial activities” sector – banks, insurance companies and real estate firms – which added 100 jobs in April, and also in March, year over year. These jobs tend to pay well, Crowell pointed out.

Healthcare and retail also added jobs, but in these sectors, salaries typically are low, except for managerial positions, he said.

And some of the better paying sectors – construction, manufacturing, government and information – continue to lose jobs.

Meanwhile, hiring at golf courses, parks and other recreational spots is up as employers prepare for the summer season.

Another positive: Crowell notes that Long Island’s economy is experiencing its fifth straight month with a declining unemployment rate.

Clearly, though, the region is not out of the woods yet.

“We’re still close to 50,000 jobs below the peak in 2007,” Crowell said.

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