Unemployment rate keeps dropping but remains more than double the level from one year ago

DOVER — Delaware’s unemployment rate dropped for the fourth straight month but still far exceeds the unemployment level from one year ago.

As of last month, 8.2% of Delawareans in the labor force were out of work. That’s down from 15.9% in May but more than twice the September 2019 rate of 3.9%, according to data released by the Delaware Department of Labor Friday,

Nationally, the jobless rate declined from 8.4% to 7.9% from August to September. It was 3.5% one year ago.

Approximately 40,400 job-seeking residents of the First State were not employed in September.

While the jobless rate saw positive news, earnings did not. Weekly private-sector wages slipped from $945.62 to $923.72, almost identical to September 2019’s average.

Delaware’s jobless rate jumped from 3.9% in February to 5.1% in March, the largest month-to-month increase since September 1990, before shooting to 14.9% in April. It peaked at 15.9% in May.

The state’s first coronavirus case was announced March 11, and businesses were under serious restrictions by the end of the month, with residents urged to remain at home.

During the early months of the pandemic, national unemployment reached levels unseen since the Great Depression.

Prior to this year, Delaware’s highest unemployment rate on record was 9.8% in 1976, the first year relevant job data is available.

Similarly, before the pandemic, Delaware had never seen its jobless rate improve by more than .3% in a single month.

During the Great Recession, its worst point was 8.8%, coming in January 2010.

The state has lost about 37,500 non-farm jobs over the past 12 months, with a plurality in leisure and hospitality.

Locally, unemployment was 8.5% in New Castle County, 8.6% in Kent County and 6.8% in Sussex County last month. Unlike the state data, the county figures are not seasonally adjusted, however.

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