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Delaware unemployment rate unmoved in May

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Delaware’s unemployment rate had been steadily falling for more than a year, but has stalled in recent monhts. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate was unmoved for the third consecutive month in May, matching the national trend despite adding 400 net jobs, according to state officials.

May’s job gains add to more than 3,000 jobs created since February, and Delaware added a robust 1,200 more jobseekers to continue pushing its record-high labor force, 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 May unemployment rate remained at 4.5%, and was still significantly higher than the national average, which also stalled at 3.6% for the third straight month.

In June 2021, Delaware’s rate was lower than the national average, but the state has since steadily fallen behind in its recovery. It ranked 45th in unemployment rate among states in May, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It has fallen behind Maryland and New Jersey, which ranked tied for 36th and 32nd at 4% and 3.9%, respectively. Pennsylvania has only a slightly higher unemployment rate of 4.6%, ranking tied for 46th. Nebraska continues to have the lowest rate of 1.9%, while New Mexico had the highest at 5.1%.

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, an increase of 200 people over April.

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 May, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.2%, 5% 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 6.3% and 6.8% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The largest monthly job gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 1,000 jobs last month as it gears up for summertime. That was followed by the professional and business services sector, which added 200 jobs; manufacturing, which added 100; and unsorted industries, which added 200 jobs.

Leading job losses were the transportation, trade and utilities sector, which shed 500 jobs. It was followed by the government, which lost 300; construction, which lost 200; and financial activities, which lost another 100.

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