Long Island is leading the charge in terms of private sector job growth in New York, according to a New York State Department of Labor report released Tuesday — although the unemployment rate is up slightly in the Town of Huntington and across the island.
Unemployment in Huntington rose from January to February to 7.1 percent. In February 2011, it was at 6.9 percent. There were 7,500 Huntington residents listed as unemployed in February; 7,400 in January 2012; and 7,200 in February 2011.
With the lowest unemployment rate in the state’s 10 regions, Long Island added 20,800 private sector jobs – the largest February gain since 1990, according to the Labor Department.
In Suffolk County, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 8.3 percent in February from 8.2 percent January. It was at 8.2 percent a year ago. There were 64,100 Suffolk County residents listed as unemployed in February, the same as in January. There were 63,300 unemployed a year ago.
Still, Long Island’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in February, up .1 percent from a year ago. Yet the region out performed New York state, which was at 9.2 percent, and the nation at 8.7 percent.
It’s not clear exactly 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.
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.