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Delaware unemployment rate unmoved in January

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Delaware’s unemployment rate remained frozen for the second consecutive month in January. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate was flat in January, while the national trend continued to trickle down in a widening gap of more than 100 basis points, according to state officials.

January saw a gain of 2,300 jobs and 600 more jobseekers in the labor force, stemming a downward trend in both, 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 January unemployment rate remained at 4.6% – the December figure was adjusted up 20 basis points from its first report – and now sits considerably higher than the national average, which fell 10 basis points to 3.4% in January.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 22,900 unemployed people in January, an increase of 1,200 people over December.

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 January, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.5%, 5.2% and 5%, 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 6.3% of workers were unemployed in each.

Leading job gains was the professional and business services sector, which added 1,000 jobs.  It was followed by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 800; manufacturing, which added 400; and the construction, education and health, and transportation, trade and utilities sectors, all of which added 100 jobs. Unsorted industries added another 200 jobs.

Leading job losses was the financial activities sector, which shed 300 jobs, while the government cut another 100.

The state’s January jobs report is always issued a month later than normal to allow staffers time to complete the year-end annual reports. The February jobs report will be released later this month.

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