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Delaware unemployment rate flat as national rate drops

Katie Tabeling
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Delaware’s unemployment rate has been flat for four months now. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ADOBE STOCK

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate remained flat for the fourth consecutive month in January, but the state’s number of jobseekers continues to push record highs, according to state officials.

January saw a gain of 500 jobs and the loss of 900 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning. The 509,700 continues to push a record for the state’s labor force, including workers and jobseekers, eclipsing the half million mark yet again.

There were 20,700 unemployed Delawareans in January 2024 in all, compared to 20,300 in January 2023.

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 of 4.1%, relatively unchanged from December. The gap between the national average grew 75 basis points at a rate of 3.4%.

Delaware’s ranking among states has improved again in recent months – it now sits at 38th overall for December according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data – but still trails some neighboring states like Maryland and Pennsylvania. 

The Keystone State sits at 25th at 3.4%. Maryland still enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, now at 3rd overall with 2.2%. Delaware is still ahead of New Jersey, which placed at 48th, with 4.8%.

Nevada continues to have the highest unemployment rate at 5.3%. In total, 33 states either matched the national average or had lower unemployment rates in December. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to release updated data for January early next week.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state ­recorded 20,700 unemployed people last month, an decrease of 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.

Delaware’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in January, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 3.9%, 4.2% and 3.8%, respectively. However, those statistics are not seasonally adjusted. 

Wilmington and Dover, the state’s most populous cities, have seen a greater impact in job losses. Wilmington reports 6.3% of workers are unemployed, while Dover reports a 5.9% unemployment rate.

Leading job gains last month was the education and health sector, which added 500 jobs. It was followed by the construction, manufacturing and financial activities, all of which added 200 jobs; and leisure and hospitality and trade and transportation sectors, both of which added 100 jobs.

Leading job losses in January were the professional and business services sector, which cut 400 jobs. It was followed by unsorted industries, which lost 200 jobs and the government sector which cut 100 jobs.

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