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Delaware unemployment rate rises slightly in October

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Delaware’s unemployment rate rose slightly in October, but the state also saw upticks in jobseekers and average wages. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate inched higher in October after a three-month stretch of holding steady, but the state’s number of jobseekers continues to push record highs, according to state officials.

October saw a loss of 1,000 jobs but the addition of 1,600 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning. The 509,300 is a new record for the state’s labor force, including workers and jobseekers, eclipsing the half million mark for the fifth 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 October unemployment rate of 4.2% was up 10 basis points, but kept pace with the national average, which also rose 10 basis points to 3.9% last month. The 30-point gap from the national average is the smallest since August 2021.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state ­recorded 21,400 unemployed people last month, an increase of 400 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 October, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.1%, 4.7% and 4%, 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 6.4% and 6.1% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was the professional and business services sector, which added 2,300 jobs. It was followed by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 1,300; the  education and health sector, which added 1,000; manufacturing and financial services sectors, which each added 200; and unsorted industries, which added 100.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector led in job losses for the second consecutive month, shedding 700 jobs in October. It was followed by the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 400 jobs; the professional and business services sector, which lost 300; unsorted industries, which also lost 300; construction, which lost 200; financial activities, which lost 200; and the information sector, which lost 100.

Government, manufacturing and the education and health care sector all tied for the lead in jobs gains, with each adding 400 jobs.

One other positive sign from the October jobs report was the rise in the private sector’s average hourly wages, which outpaced inflation last month. The average increase of $1.30, or 4.3% overall, exceeded the consumer price index growth rate of 3.2%. The jump in average wages was led by the manufacturing sector, where wages have increased by 11% over last year, and construction, which has risen 8.3%, according to the labor department.

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