More bad news in unemployment data

DOVER — Delaware’s unemployment rate rose .1 percent in July, the 11th consecutive month that has seen the jobless rate either increase or remain the same.
The state’s employment figures have been worse than the national average for the past four months.

Data released Friday by the Delaware Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information in the Department of Labor shows a grim trend continuing. Delaware’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, while the nation’s as a whole was 4.3 percent. Prior to April, it had been more than 10 years since the First State’s unemployment rate was higher than the national figure.

Delaware entered the year with an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent, compared to the national figure of 4.9 percent. While 19 states have a rate worse than the national average, only Connecticut and Massachusetts have seen larger increases than Delaware this year.

“I’m trying to figure out does that mean that we’re going to get worse or is it a patch that we’re going to come out of?” said George Sharpley, chief of the office.

Only time will tell, but Dr. Sharpley said he is “a little more pessimistic” than last month.

“As each month goes with things nationally not looking that great and things locally not really going anywhere, then the odds increase that it actually turns into a downturn,” he noted.

For long periods in 1995, 1996 and 2012, the state’s unemployment rate rose or remained stagnant, but the numbers were not a harbinger of a recession. In 1908, 2001 and 2007, on the other hand, the state’s unemployment rate stopped decreasing more than a year before recessions officially began, according to the Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information.

The unemployment rate continues to be bad news for Gov. John Carney, who has made job creation one of his core goals.

Kent County continues to lag behind New Castle and Sussex, with 5.9 percent of people unemployed in July, although that figure is not seasonally adjusted. Dover’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.

Statewide, professional and business services lost 1,600 jobs over the past 12 months, with a decline of 1,100 jobs in government. Leisure and hospitality, however, gained 2,800 positions, and the education and health field was not far behind with a growth of 2,500 jobs.

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