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Delaware unemployment closes gap with national average

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Delaware’s unemployment rate has been steadily falling and is now nearing the national average. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Buoyed by a post-pandemic low rate and an uptick in unemployment in other states, Delaware’s unemployment rate began to close the gap with the national average last month, according to state officials.

August saw a loss of 400 jobs but an additional 2,400 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning. The 505,500 is a new record for the state’s labor force, eclipsing the half million mark for the third consecutive month, and it marks the largest monthly gain since November 2020.

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 August unemployment rate remained at 4.1% but sat only 30 basis points from the national average, which rose 30 basis points to 3.8% last month. The 4.1% rate is the lowest that Delaware’s unemployment has dropped since February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, when the rate was 3.7%. The 30-point gap from the national average is the smallest since August 2021

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state r­ecorded 20,800 unemployed people last month, an increase of 200 people over July.

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.

The state’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in August, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.7%, 5.4% and 3.9%, 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 7.5% and 6.8% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector led in job losses, shedding 900 jobs last month, followed by the education and health sector that lost 500 jobs.

Meanwhile, leading job gains last month was construction with 500 jobs, followed by the financial activities sector, manufacturing sector, and professional and business services sector, each of which added 100 jobs.

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