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Delaware unemployment rate dips in March

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Delaware’s unemployment rate fell in March after being stagnant for months. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate dipped 20 basis points in March, breaking a streak of three consecutive months with stagnant unemployment, but it remains above the national trend, according to state officials.

March saw a gain of 2,600 jobs and 700 more jobseekers in the labor force, 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 March unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% but still sits nearly 100 basis points from the national average, which fell 10 basis points to 3.5% last month.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 22,000 unemployed people last month, a decrease of 600 people over January.

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 March, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.1%, 4.9% and 4.5%, 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 5.7% and 5.9% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was the transportation, trade and utilities sector and financial activities sector, which each added 600 jobs. They were followed by construction, which added 500; leisure and hospitality sector, which added 400; education and health, which added 300; and government and unsorted industries, which each added 100.

Not a single sector, or even subsector, reported a net loss in March – a rare occurrence.

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