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Delaware unemployment rate still falling slowly

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Delaware’s unemployment rate has been steadily falling for more than a year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate inched down 10 more basis points in March, while adding 1,400 net jobs, according to state officials.

March’s job gains added to 1,300 jobs created in February, and Delaware added 400 more job-seekers to continue pushing its record-high labor force higher, according to the monthly report released Monday 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, they are no longer counted as being unemployed in the state.

Delaware’s March unemployment rate of 4.5% was still significantly higher than the national average, which fell 20 basis points to 3.6% last month.

In June, Delaware’s rate was lower than the national average, but the state has since steadily fallen behind in its recovery. It ranked 41st in unemployment rate among states in March, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It was just ahead of Maryland and Pennsylvania, which reported 4.6% and 4.9% unemployment rates, respectively. It was behind New Jersey, however, which ranked tied for 34th at 4.2%. Nebraska and Utah remain tied at the lowest rate of 2%, while New Mexico 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 22,600 unemployed last month, a decrease of 400 people over February’s adjusted figures.

The official monthly unemployment figure is created by looking at continuous unemployment insurance claims as well as the 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 February, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.5%, 5.3% and 4.7%, 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 6.2% and 6.8% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The largest monthly job gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 900 jobs, while manufacturing added another 300. Government and professional and business services added 200 each, while education and health, and trade, transportation, and utilities both chipped in 100 each.

Leading job losses was the construction sector, which lost 300 jobs, while unsorted industries also lost another 100.

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