Nearly one in seven Delaware workers were unemployed last month

DOVER — Delaware set an ignominious new record last month courtesy of the coronavirus, as the state’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.3 percent.

Out of the estimated civilian labor force of 465,000 Delawareans, nearly 67,000 were not employed in April, according to data from the Delaware Department of Labor and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate leapt from 3.9 percent in February to 5.1 percent in March, the largest month to month increase since September 1990, before last month’s astronomical climb.

Delaware’s first coronavirus case was announced March 11, and businesses were under serious restrictions by the end of the month, while Delawareans were urged to remain at home.

Nationally, the unemployment rate jumped from 3.5 to 4.4 percent from February to March. In April, it hit 14.7 percent, the highest figure since the Great Depression, with more than 23 million Americans out of work.

Delaware’s 14.3 percent unemployment is equivalent to one in seven workers losing a job, and it shatters the old mark of 9.8 percent from 1976, the first year job records for the state are available.

During the Great Recession, the First State’s peak was 8.8 percent.

The April unemployment rates for New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties, respectively, are 14.1, 15.8 and 16 percent. However, unlike the state rate, the county figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Over the past 12 months, Delaware has lost around 29,800 jobs in leisure and hospitality, 13,700 in education and health and 10,400 in retail. Budget officials noted Thursday during an update on the state’s revenue forecast many of the jobs lost here were low-wage positions.

The state received close to 96,000 unemployment claims from March 15 to May 16, paying out $235 million in that time. There were about 32,000 claims in all of 2019.

Gov. John Carney has described it as “economic carnage,” and Delaware has begun lifting some restrictions in hope of revitalizing its economy.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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