Wages remain flat for Delaware employees

DOVER — Other than large corporate bonuses paid to just a few employees, most workers in Delaware continue to see little if any improvement in their wages this year.

The Delaware Department of Labor would not disclose the five state-based firms that paid out over $250 million in bonuses that increased overall wages paid by 10.6 percent from the first quarter of 2017.

“At first blush this appears to be good news for the average worker, but digging a little bit deeper shows that this is likely not the case,” the DOL’s monthly review indicated Friday.

The lack of substantial salary growth in the first quarter continued a trend that’s existed for years,

“The average worker is at least treading water,” said Dr. George Sharpley, chief of the state’s Office of Occupational and Labor Employee Market Information.

“Wage gains are roughly what the inflation rate is and spending power hasn’t increased.”

The company headquarters average wage rose by 37.5 percent in the first quarter. Other double-digit increases came in professional, scientific, and technical services (17.1 percent), utilities (16.7 percent) and finance and insurance (11.3 percent).

A majority of lesser-paying industries such as restaurants and retail saw gains in the low single digits, the DOL reported through data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The DOL’s report showed the state’s unemployment rate in October at 4.8 percent (down .1 percent from September), compared to 4.1 percent nationally. A year ago in October, the rates were 4.3 percent statewide, 4.8 percent nationally.

Dr. Sharpley is evaluating the increase of part-time workers from 85,300 to 104,000 within the past year, based on household survey data ending in October 2017.

Area unemployment rates included:

•New Castle County – 4.3 percent in Oct. 2017, 4.7 in Sept. 2017 and 4.1 in Oct. 2016.

•Wilmington – 6.5 percent in Oct. 2017, 7.0 in Sept. 2017 and 6.3 in Oct. 2016.

•Newark – 4.4 percent in Oct. 2017, 4.4 in Sept. 2017 and 4.5 in Oct. 2016.

•Kent County – 4.7 percent in Oct. 2017, 5.1 in Sept. 2017 and 4.5 in Oct. 2016.

•Dover – 6.1 percent in Oct. 2017, 6.7 in Sept. 2017 and 6.0 in Oct. 2016.

•Sussex County – 4.2 percent in Oct. 2017, 4.4 in Sept. 2017 and 4.2 in Oct. 2016.

The DOL cited data provided through survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Delaware’s total non-farm jobs have risen by .7 percent since October 2016, while they’ve increased 1.4 percent nationally. According to the DOL, the healthcare industry continues to lead the growth while banking is still positive but beginning to slow a bit.

To more accurately describe the industry, the DOL said it now classifies two Delaware-based Amazon facilities as non-store retailers instead of a warehousing identification.

The education and health services sector made up 17.5 percent of Delaware employment in October 2017, followed by government (14.7 percent) and retail trade (11.4 percent).

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