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Delaware unemployment rate holds as workers hit record high


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Delaware has held a post-pandemic low unemployment rate for four straight months. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC PROUZET/UNSPLASH

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate held its post-pandemic low in September while the number of workers and jobseekers in the state reached a record high, according to state officials.

September saw a gain of 3,200 jobs and an additional 2,200 jobseekers in the labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning. The 507,700 is a new record for the state’s labor force, eclipsing the half-million mark for the fourth consecutive month, while the 486,700 workers is a new high too, breaking the mark set back in May.

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 September unemployment rate remained at 4.1% for the third straight month and only 30 basis points from the national average, which remained at 3.8% last month. The 4.1% rate is the lowest that Delaware’s unemployment has dropped since February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, when the rate was 3.7%. 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 21,000 unemployed people last month, an increase of 200 people over August.

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 September, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.1%, 4.5% 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 6.2% and 5.8% 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, 1,200 jobs last month. It was followed by the government, which lost 600; and the information sector, which lost 100.

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