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Delaware unemployment rate flat again in February

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Delaware’s unemployment rate has been frozen for three consecutive months now. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate was flat for the third consecutive month in February, while the national trend increased to help close the gap, according to state officials.

February saw a gain of 1,000 jobs but a loss of 100 more jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning.

The labor force captures not only workers and those receiving unemployment benefits, but also those in search of work who aren’t receiving assistance. As workers stop seeking work, for a variety of reasons ranging from retirement to child care needs, they are no longer counted as being unemployed in the state.

Delaware’s February unemployment rate remained at 4.6% but now sits under 100 basis points from the national average, which rose 20 basis points to 3.6% last month.

Delaware ranked tied for 47rd in unemployment rate among states in ­­­February, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It ranked only ahead of Oregon and Nevada, and was tied with Washington state.

The First State has fallen behind Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, which ranked 45th, 26th and 16th at 4.4%, 3.5%, and 2.9%, respectively. North and South Dakota were tied for the lowest rate at 2.1%, while Nevada had the highest at 5.5%.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 22,600 unemployed people last month, a decrease of 300 people over January.

The official monthly unemployment figure is created by looking at continuous unemployment insurance claims as well as a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of residents on their employment status. It tracks not only those receiving benefits, but also those who are ineligible, such as terminated employees, those who have resigned and the self-employed, who only became eligible for assistance under a special federal program established under the CARES Act.

The state’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in February, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.3%, 5.1% and 4.9%, respectively – although those statistics aren’t seasonally adjusted. Wilmington and Dover, the state’s two most populous cities, have seen an even greater impact in job losses, where 6.1% and 6% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 600 jobs; followed by manufacturing, which added 300; government, which added 300; professional and business services sector, which added 200; and education and health, which added 100.

Leading job losses was the transportation, trade and utilities sector, which shed 300 jobs last month; followed by unsorted industries, with 200 job losses and the financial activities sector, which cut 100 jobs.

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