Long Island’s unemployment rate in July fell from a year ago, but rose since June in a mixed bag for the region.
Long Island's not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in July, down 0.1 percentage point from a year ago and at a historic low. But it was up from a rock bottom 3.1 percent in June - a significant rise, while still extremely low.
Nassau County’s rate decreased one tenth of a percentage point to 3.5 percent from a year ago, while Suffolk County’s rate decreased the same amount to 3.8 percent, both good signs.
New York State’s rate was 4.2 percent, flat with a year ago, and the national rate was 4.0 percent, down a tenth of a percentage point.
All these year-over-year numbers are low, especially when 4 percent is traditionally considered full employment.
But something else may be holding the numbers down, since fewer people are working than a year ago, even as the unemployment rate drops.
More people who aren't working may be saying they aren't looking for work, which means they wouldn't be classified as unemployed.
“One issue may be the region’s aging workforce and an increasing number of people retiring, which would lead to a decline in the labor force," said Shital Patel, principal economist and labor market analyst for the Long Island Region at the New York State Department of Labor in Hicksville.
Even as Long Island’s unemployment rate fell from a year ago, so did the number of people working, slipping to 1,449,500 from 1,468,400. The number of unemployed also fell to 54,900 from 57,100.
The labor force, defined as those working and those still seeking work, dropped from 1,525,500 to 1,504,400 year over year.
“While Long Island’s unemployment rate remains near historic low levels, the region’s labor force has been shrinking,” Patel said.
Patel said “without further details like we get from the national report, it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific reason,” but an aging population may be leading to a smaller workforce and lower unemployment.
There were differences between municipalities, but they all showed historically low numbers.
Hempstead Village had the highest unemployment rate in Nassau at 4.4 percent, followed by Freeport Village at 4.1 percent and Valley Stream Village at 4.0 percent.
Long Beach City had the lowest rate at 3.0 percent followed by Rockville Centre Village and North Hempstead Town, both at 3.2 percent.
In Suffolk, Brookhaven Town had the highest rate at 4.2 percent, followed by Lindenhurst Village at 4.1 percent. Southampton Town had the lowest at 3.1 percent followed by Huntington Town at 3.3 percent.