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Delaware unemployment rate static in June

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DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate fell only 10 basis points in June, although the state did add jobs and workers over the start of the summer period in a turnaround from May, according to state officials.

The state added 2,400 jobs last month after losing 1,400 jobs in May and added 1,600 workers back to the labor force after it lost 2,500 two months ago, 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 childcare, they are no longer counted as being unemployed in the state. The rise in the labor force is a sign that as the pandemic’s effects are easing, as more people may be preparing to re-enter the workforce as opportunity allows.

Delaware’s June unemployment rate of 5.8% breaks a streak to start 2021 where the state’s rate was above the national average, which sat at 5.9% last month. New weekly unemployment claims in the First State fell to 1,475 in the week ending July 10, continuing a downward trend ever since the state Department of Labor began requiring job search activity for continued benefit payments. About 18,100 people continue to receive assistance, representing a sharp decline from four weeks earlier.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report, which is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day, showed that 28,200 workers were unemployed, a decrease of 400 over May.

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.

More than 257,000 state workers have filed for unemployment assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a variety of state and federal programs have tried to help offset some of their losses. Over the now-16-month-long pandemic, state and federal unemployment assistance has paid more than $1.37 billion to Delaware residents.

The state’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in June, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 5.9%, 7.7% and 4.4%, respectively – although those statistics aren’t seasonally adjusted, which impacts tourism-based growth in coastal destinations. Wilmington and Dover, the state’s two most populous cities, have seen an even greater impact in job losses, where 9.5% and 10.7% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The largest monthly job gains came from the retail and wholesale trade subsectors, which added 1,400 jobs, and the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 1,300, ahead at the start of tourism season. Meanwhile, government added 700 workers, education and health added 300, manufacturing added 200, and information added 100 as did transportation and utilities.

Professional and business services saw the biggest loss last month at 900 jobs – the second consecutive month for that many losses, followed by construction at 300 jobs, financial activities at 300 jobs, and assorted other industries at 100 jobs.

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