State unemployment rate falls but remains above 10%

DOVER — Delaware’s jobless rate fell more than 2% in July, but one in 10 would-be workers were still unemployed.

According to data released Friday by the Delaware Department of Labor, 10.4% of the state’s labor force were out of work last month. That’s down from 12.6% in June, which itself was a decrease from the record-shattering 15.9% unemployment in May.

Nationally, 10.2% of Americans were not working in July, a decline of .9% from the prior month.

July 2019, in contrast, saw just 3.8% of Delawareans and 3.7% of Americans unemployed.

Delaware has lost 43,000 non-farm jobs over the past 12 months, with about a third of those coming in the fields of leisure and hospitality.

Prior to this year, the state’s highest unemployment rate on record was 9.8% in 1976, the first year job statistics for the state are available. During the Great Recession, the First State’s nadir was 8.8%.

The unemployment rate rose from 3.9% in February to 5.1% in March, the largest month-to-month increase since September 1990, before skyrocketing to 14.9% in April. Nationally, unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression.

Delaware’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. Like the rest of the country, the state has not fully lifted restrictions, as health experts warn of renewed risks should protections cease.

Last month’s unemployment rates for New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties, respectively, are 10.9%, 11.5% and 9.1%. Unlike the state rate, the county figures are not seasonally adjusted, however.

At the state level, weekly wages declined $19 from June to July but were still up $24 from the same time in 2019.