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Delaware unemployment reaches post-pandemic low in July

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Delaware’s unemployment rate has been steadily falling for several months. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate reached a new post-pandemic low in July while the national trend also ticked down slightly, but jobseekers continue to reach­ new highs, according to state officials.

July saw a loss of 2,700 jobs but an additional 900 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning. The 503,100 is a new record for the state’s labor force, eclipsing the half million mark for the second consecutive month.

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 July unemployment rate dropped to 4.1% and sits 60 basis points from the national average, which fell also 10 basis points to 3.5% 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%.

Delaware still ranked 48th in unemployment rate among states in July, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It ranked only ahead of California and Nevada. The First State has fallen behind Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, which ranked 45th, 37th and third at 3.9%, 3.5%, and 1.8%, respectively. New Hampshire had the lowest rate at 1.7% while Nevada had the highest at 5.3%.

Notably, 36 states either matched or bested the national average.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 20,600 unemployed people last month, a decrease of 200 people over June.

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 July, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.3%, 5.1% and 3.5%, 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 6.6% and 6.7% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The financial activities sector led in job losses, shedding 1,100 jobs last month, followed by the government sector, which lost 800; the professional and business services sector, which lost 700; the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 400; unsorted industries that lost 300; and construction, which lost 100.

Meanwhile, leading job gains last month was the education and health sector and the trade, transportation and utilities sector, both of which added 300 jobs, and manufacturing, which added 100.

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