New York lost a town’s worth of employment last month, shedding 33,000 private sector jobs in March, according to state Labor Department figures released last week. Employment in the state has dropped for seven consecutive months, for a loss of 176,100 private sector jobs since August.

The job loss brought the total private sector job count down to 7,138,100, wiping out 40% of the 400,000 jobs the state added during the 2003 to 2008 economic expansion, the department said.

Despite the large drop, unemployment remains below the national average. The state’s unemployment rate was unchanged last month compared to February at 7.8% while national unemployment rose to 8.5% from 8.1%. New York City unemployment also stayed constant at 8.1%.

A year over year comparison is more striking. In March 2008, unemployment in the city, state and nation were 4.6%, 4.8% and 5.1% respectively.

While the economy has added educational and health service jobs, most other sectors, including trade, transportation, manufacturing, professional and business services, financial activities and construction have all lost jobs over the past year. New York City has lost 86,400 jobs over the past year.

Responding to the new data, New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. said in a statement that he was hopeful “that the infusion of federal stimulus funds into our economy will help to stabilize our job market and place us on our way to recovery.” 

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