New York's unemployment rate last month fell from 7.4% to 7.1%, driven by a modest increase in the private-sector job count, the state Department of Labor on Thursday announced.

The state's economy added 14,800 in the private sector, an increase of about 0.2%, and slightly slower than the national rate of 0.3%.

New York shed 2 million jobs in the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is yet to fully return to the unemployment rate seen prior to the crisis in February 2020 of under 4%. Businesses have reported a tight labor, which has made it difficult to find and hire people for open positions.

Meanwhile, unemployment remains well above the state rate in New York City. In the five boroughs, joblessness dropped from 10.2% to 9.8% in September. Outside of the city, the unemployment rate is nearly cut in half: dropping from 5.3% to 5.1% from August to September.