(Reuters) - New York state's unemployment rate was unchanged in April from March at 8.5 percent but the state has won back all the private sector jobs lost during the recession, the state Department of Labor said on Thursday.
New York's jobless rate is up from 8 percent in April 2011 and is above the national rate for April of 8.1 percent.
Only four other states have regained all the jobs lost during the Great Recession: Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota and Texas, said Kevin Jack, a state labor market analyst.
The states that are farthest from achieving this goal are: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, he said.
New York only made the list of winning states with a 0.1 percent increase in the number of private sector jobs, adding 8,300 positions. "The state's private sector job count now stands at 7,319,600 - an all-time high," the Department of Labor said in a statement.
New York's fastest growing sectors were professional and business services, which added 51,400 positions from April 2011 to April 2012, educational and health services, which grew by 31,100, and leisure and hospitality, which added 16,100 people.
The downstate region around New York City added most of the jobs - 70,600 - versus the upstate addition of 20,300. Job gains were concentrated in New York City, which added 63,000 workers.
NEW YORK CITY JOBLESS RATE AT 9.5 PERCENT
New York City's jobless rate was 9.5 percent in April, down from 9.7 percent in March but up from 8.8 percent a year earlier.
The city's economic engine is Wall Street, and the number of people working at securities and commodities firms fell to 168,600 workers in April from 169,700 in March. But the workforce remained above the year-ago level of 166,600.
"They were steadily hiring until at least the middle of last year," said James Brown, a state labor market analyst. But "it's almost certainly going to end up negative in the next couple of months; it's been declining in the last few months," he added.
The much bigger financial activities sector, which includes insurance, for example, was unchanged in April at 442,200 but was up from the year-earlier level of 436,100.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by James Dalgleish)