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Delaware unemployment rate ticks up in August

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Delaware’s unemployment rate rose for the first time in six months in August. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate rose 10 basis points in August after five months of minimal decline, as the First State bested the national trend only slightly, according to state officials.

August also saw job gains of 1,900 add to nearly 7,000 jobs created since February – although those figures are not seasonally adjusted, accounting for the discrepancy in the rise of the overall rate – and Delaware added 100 more jobseekers to continue pushing its record-high labor force over half a million, 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 July unemployment rate rose to 4.5%, but was still significantly higher than the national average, which also rose 20 points to 3.7%.

Delaware ranked tied for 47th in unemployment rate among states in August, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It has fallen behind New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, which ranked 36th, 43rd and 44th at 4%, 4.2% and 4.3%, respectively. Minnesota had the lowest rate of 1.9%, while New Mexico and Alaska tied for the highest at 4.7%.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 23,200 unemployed last month, an increase of 100 people over June.

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 July, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.6%, 5.7% and 3.9%, 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 6.8% and 7.2% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The largest monthly job gains came in government, which added 1,000 jobs last month, followed by education and health, which added 600 jobs; the transportation, trade and utilities sector, which added 300; leisure and hospitality, which added 200; and the professional and business services sector, which added 100.

Leading the job losses was construction, which lost a total of 200 jobs, followed by the information sector, which lost 100.

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