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Labor market on LI adds 27,600 jobs in February, retail sees fewer job losses

Long Island’s labor market saw job growth for the second month in a row, with the region adding more than 27,000 jobs in February compared with the same month a year earlier, state data showed.

Last month, the number of total non-farm jobs in the local economy saw an increase of 2.1%, or 27,600 jobs, from the same month a year earlier, according to data published by the state Labor Department on Thursday. On a month-on-month basis, jobs increased by 4,400 jobs, when a loss of 700 jobs is a norm for the month.

Economists said that in most cases the numbers remain the same as in the first month of the year.

“Most of the gains or losses in jobs were in line with what we typically see in each sector,” said Sheetal Patel, a labor market analyst with the Hicksville office of the Labor Department. “There wasn’t much deviation from that.”

The monthly employment data released by the state is an estimate of the job count based on responses to a sample of the Current Employment Survey (CES) of non-agricultural establishments.

A large part of the reason the island saw job growth from January to February was a shift in retail hiring, Patel said.

“We saw a smaller-than-average loss of seasonal jobs,” she said. “We have lost only 2,200 jobs in the retail sector this month, compared to the usual average loss of 4,100 jobs.”

Retail hiring typically increases significantly in the fourth quarter to meet the demands of holiday shoppers. Patel said that from October to December of 2022, however, that growth was largely absent, leading to fewer layoffs after the holiday season.

Overall, seven of the nine industry sectors tracked by the state gained jobs last month compared to a year earlier.

Business and professional services gained 9,900 jobs; leisure and hospitality added 7,500; Private education and health services saw a gain of 4,400; construction added 3,600 jobs; Other services – including laundry services – added 800; manufacturing added 700; And financial activities increased by 400.

John Rizzo, economist and professor at Stony Brook University, said recent data suggest the island’s economy remains strong in its recovery from the pandemic.

“The labor market remains strong. That much is clear,” Rizzo said.

With that increase in mind, Rizzo said, inflation is likely to be an ongoing concern for the Federal Reserve, which is seeking to control price increases through interest rate hikes.

“The economy is still strong and there are still lots of opportunities for workers,” he said. “It’s a double-edged sword the Fed is fighting.”


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