NEW YORK New York City's unemployment rate leveled off at 9.4 percent in August after falling for the past seven months but the rate remains well below the year-ago level of 10.1 percent, official data showed on Thursday.
A bright construction sector, which hired almost three times the usual number of workers last month, helped offset a lackluster performance by Wall Street, James Brown, a state labor market analyst, said by telephone.
Building companies, whose work evaporated during the real estate's downturn, added 3,400 employees in August, bringing this sector's workforce to 121,500 people, Brown said.
Over the past decade, this sector typically has only added about 1,300 jobs in August.
"It's much better than a typical August gain," he said.
Retail trade also turned in a solid performance, hiring 3,400 workers and increasing this workforce to 295,000, according to the state Department of Labor Department report.
Wall Street, which drives both the city and state economies, shed 200 jobs in August, compressing its workforce to 161,200 positions.
This sector, which counts securities and commodities traders and the like, has shed 5,300 positions since a year-ago. Its workforce remains well below its December 2000 peak of 200,300 positions.
Banking, from savings and loan companies to credit companies, hired 100 people in August, for a total workforce of 86,400 people, Brown said.
In contrast with Wall Street's decline this year, the banking sector has added 900 workers over a year-ago, Brown said.
The overall finance and insurance sector lost 600 jobs in August, decreasing its workforce to 311,400 people.
As often is the case during summer, when the loss of vacationing school teachers is often partly offset by the hiring of temporary park or census workers, the government sector proved volatile. This category shed about 11,000 positions to a total of 545,000, Brown said.
New York state's unemployment rate firmed one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.3 percent in August. But it is down from the year-ago level of 8.8 percent.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Andrew Hay)