Jobless rate continues to fall in Delaware

DOVER — The unemployment rate in Delaware fell for the ninth consecutive month in April, dropping to 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent in March.

State economist George Sharpley said the news marks 32 months since the state saw an increase in the jobless rate. The number is at its lowers since March 2008.

Dr. Sharpley added that the unemployment rate probably won’t stay on a downward trend for much longer.

“It’s just a matter of time before the unemployment rate stops falling,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s really reflecting weakness in the economy. It’s just leveling off.”

According to the state labor report, released Friday, there were 20,700 unemployed Delawareans last month, compared to 26,700 in April 2014.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in April, down from 5.5 percent in March. A year ago, the U.S. unemployment rate was 6.2 percent, while Delaware’s rate was 5.9 percent.

In April, seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment was 442,900, down from 444,000 in March. Although the number of employed residents rose by 2100, though, the number of jobs reported by the state’s employers fell by 1,100.

Dr. Sharpley said the measures are both based on surveys, so they can move in opposite directions “simply due to statistical variation.”

“Statistical variation is also why any one month’s preliminary data should not cause undue excitement or concern,” he said.

The results from the business survey typically “bounce around,” Dr. Sharpley said.

Since they are revised at the beginning of each year to reflect payroll data, tracking those numbers offers a more accurate picture of the jobs in the state.

The payroll data for the last quarter of 2014 was recently released, along with a revision to third quarter data. Both measures indicates that the survey is understating job gains, Dr. Sharpley said.

While business survey reported that Delaware added 8,000 jobs since April 2014, which Dr. Sharpley called “a pretty good showing,” the payroll data showed even stronger job growth.

For the second half of 2014, it averaged more than 1,900 jobs ahead of the survey-based data.

“This indicates that revisions to the survey-based data will be upward,” he wrote in the review.

“A broad look at the totality of the available data should lead to the conclusion that job growth remains quite strong.”

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