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Delaware unemployment rate flat, but labor sets records

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Delaware’s unemployment rate was flat in June, but workers and jobseekers have hit record highs. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate was unmoved from its post-pandemic low in June while national trend ticked down slightly, but both workers and jobseekers reached new highs, according to state officials.

June saw a gain of 1,100 jobs and an additional 1,400 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning.

The 487,300 employed non-farm workers continues to push the state’s record higher and marking a 20-year high for annual net job gains through the first half of 2023. Meanwhile, the 501,200 is a new record for the state’s labor force as well, eclipsing the half million mark for only the second time in recorded history.

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 June unemployment rate remained at 4.2% and sits 60 basis points from the national average, which fell 10 basis points to 3.6% last month. The 4.2% 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 June, 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 43rd, 41st and fifth at 3.8%, 3.7%, and 2%, respectively. New Hampshire and South Dakota were tied with the lowest rate at 1.8% while Nevada had the highest at 5.4%.

Notably, 38 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 20,800 unemployed people last month, a decrease of 500 people over April.

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 June, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.5%, 5.3% and 3.7%, 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 7.4% and 6.6% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was government, which added 2,000 jobs, the bulk of which came at the local government level. It was followed by the education and health sector, which added 400, and the financial activities sector, which added 200; and the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 100.

Meanwhile, the professional and business services sector led in job losses, shedding 800 jobs last month, followed by manufacturing, which lost 400; the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which lost 200 jobs; and the information sector and unsorted industries, both of which lost 100 jobs.

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