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Delaware unemployment flat as national rate falls

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Delaware’s unemployment rate has remained flat but its gap to the national average is growing again. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

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

November saw a gain of 200 jobs and the addition of 900 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning. The 510,200 continues to push a new record for the state’s labor force, including workers and jobseekers, eclipsing the half million mark for the sixth 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 November unemployment rate of 4.2% was the same as October, but the gap between the national average, which fell 20 basis points to 3.7% last month, grew for the first time since this past summer.

Delaware’s ranking among states has improved significantly in recent months – it was tied for 41st overall in November, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data – but still trails some neighboring states, especially Maryland, which now has the lowest unemployment in the country at 1.8%.

The First State has also fallen behind Pennsylvania, which ranked tied for 29th at 3.4%, but is now ahead of New Jersey, which ranked tied for 48th at 4.7%.

Nevada continues to have the highest unemployment rate at 5.4%. In total, 37 states either matched the national average or had lower unemployment rates in November.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state ­recorded 21,600 unemployed people last month, an increase of 200 people over September.

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 November, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 3.6%, 4.2% and 3.8%, 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 5.5% and 5.3% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 400 jobs. It was followed by the education and health sector, which added 200, and the construction sector, which added 100.

Job losses last month were comparatively small, with the government’s loss of 200 jobs leading all industries. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector; the trade, transportation and utilities sector; and the professional and business services sector each lost 100 jobs.

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