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NY state lost 25 pct of new jobs since last decline

NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - New York state, in the final quarter of 2008, lost over 25 percent of the jobs it had gained since the last downturn, a statistic that reveals the deepening recession, the labor department said on Thursday.

This means 110,300 people working at private companies lost their jobs in just three months.

These employers had hired more than 400,000 people from July 2003, when the last decline ended, to August 2008, when the economy peaked, the state labor department’s report said.

Private companies switched rapidly from hiring workers -- adding 70,000 in the third quarter -- to laying them off.

“Data released today continue to underscore the severity of the steadily deepening recession in New York State,” said Peter Neenan, director of the state labor department’s Division of Research and Statistics in a release.

New York state’s annual unemployment rate of 5.4 percent was a four-year high while the 2.3 percentage point jump seen over the year was the biggest since these records first were kept in 1976. The annual data were part of the revisions states and federal governments undertake at the end of each year.

The latest data for January showed continuing weakness. The state’s unemployment rose 0.4 percentage point to 7 percent in January, up from the year-ago level of 4.7 percent.

New York City’s unemployment rate in January was 6.9 percent, up sharply from 4.8 percent a year go, as Wall Street’s layoffs spiraled through other industries.

While the city’s January jobless rate was down 0.1 percentage point from December, monthly fluctuations are not as meaningful, an analyst with the state Labor Department said.

One of the biggest hirers in January, which can happen after the New Year holidays, was the city’s private educational sector. These employers added 6,700 workers from a year-ago, raising their total to 162,500, the labor market analyst said.

However, these figures are not seasonally adjusted, unlike the unemployment rates. Public schools had about the same number of workers as a year-ago: around 152,400 people.

Another bright spot was health and social services, as has been the case for much of the nation, adding 8,600 people in New York City and boosting its workforce to 560,900 people.

Wall Street’s reeling giants have announced tens of thousands of layoffs but the often lengthy severance payments delays the time that laid off bankers, traders, brokers and sales people to show up in official jobless statistics.

Still, the securities and commodities industry in January only had 172,400 workers, down 15,100 from January 2008, the labor market analyst said. These jobs are prized as each of these jobs help create as many as three in the service sector.

Commercial and savings banks had 49,400 people in January 2009, 1,300 fewer than a year-ago. Insurers and similar firms employed 56,600 people, almost unchanged from a year-ago.

But professional and business services, a category that includes lawyers and consultants who serve Wall Street, shed 12,700 workers from a year-ago to 582,700.

Retailers axed 5,900 people to 292,600 while the workforce in the real estate sector, though dealing with an increasingly soggy market, fell by only about 200 people to 120,300.

Local government, a category that includes jobs paid for by the state or federal government, added 300 workers to push the total to 451,300.

Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama