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Delaware unemployment rate sees little movement in February

Katie Tabeling

Delaware’s unemployment rate has seen little improvement. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ADOBE STOCK

Delaware’s unemployment rate continues to stay on track with the previous months, but the national average is slowly rising to meet it, narrowing the gap.

February saw a net gain of 700 jobs but 600 less jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released last Friday.

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 February unemployment rate of 4% was relatively unchanged from January, only dropping 10 basis points since January. The gap between the national average narrowed by 10 basis points at a rate of 3.9%.

It’s also on track with the revised figures for February 2023. The state Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information revised the average jobs for all of 2023 as more data became available.

That brought Delaware down to 4% unemployment rate for February 2023 – the same rate where it stands one year later. 

In contrast, the nation’s rate has slowly risen over the past year – from 3.6% in February 2023 to 3.9% last month.

Delaware is now ranked 37th in the unemployment rate among states in February according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The First State is behind Pennsylvania and Maryland, which ranked 24th and fourth at 3.4% and 2.4%, respectively. North Dakota had the lowest rate at 2% while California had the highest at 5.3%

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state ­recorded 20,300 unemployed people last month, an decrease of 400 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.

The state’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in February, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 3.8%, 4.4% and 4.3%, 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 5.7% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

Leading job gains last month was the hospitality sector, which added 700 jobs. That was followed by the government, which added 300 jobs; financial activities which added 200 jobs and unsorted industries, which also added 100.

Job losses in February were manufacturing, which cut 300 jobs. It was followed by trade and transportation, construction, and private education and health which each sector cut 100 jobs.

Between February 2023 and 2024, private education and health have added 4,100 jobs, with state officials note coming primarily from health care workers. Government added 2,400 jobs to the state, and hospitality added 1,300 jobs. 

Professional and business services shed the most jobs in that time frame with 2,800 jobs. 

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