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Delaware unemployment rate flat in December

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Delaware’s unemployment rate was flat last month and remains nearly a full percentage point off the national average. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate was flat in December, while the national trend was down slightly, according to state officials.

December saw a loss of 1,700 jobs and 1,400 fewer jobseekers in the labor force, shaving off nearly all of the labor gains in the past year, 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 December unemployment rate remained at 4.4%, but was still higher than the national average, which fell 10 basis points to 3.5% last month.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 21,700 unemployed people last month, a decrease of 100 people over November.

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 December, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 3.8%, 4.6% and 4.3%, 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 5% and 5.8% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was the financial activities sector, which added 400 jobs, followed by the construction, leisure and hospitality, and transportation, trade and utilities sectors, all of which added 100 jobs.

Those gains were weighed down by the 1,400 job losses in the professional and business services sector, though. Also shedding jobs was the manufacturing sector and education and health sector, which both lost 300 jobs; unsorted industries, which lost 200 jobs; and the information sector and government, which each lost 100 jobs.

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