Delaware unemployment lowest in a decade

DOVER — The employment numbers that were released last Friday by the Delaware Department of Labor were the most positive in favor of workers than they have been in a decade.

In fact, the total number of Delawareans who were unemployed in May fell below 20,000 for the first time since May 2008, around the time when the nation was just slipping into the Great Recession.

May marked the 92nd straight month of job growth in the United States, a record streak.

The 19,512 unemployed Delaware residents put the state’s seasonally adjusted employment rate at 4.0 percent, down from 4.2 percent in April.

Dover had an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent — the same as Wilmington — while Kent County had an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, the same as the national average in May.

Dr. George Sharpley, chief of the Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information, said he envisions the positive trend of diminishing unemployment figures to continue through the end of the year.

“I would say in the near term, yes,” Dr. Sharpley said. “Probably for the rest of this year into next year I would expect the trend in unemployment numbers to be mostly positive. Beyond that, it’s less clear.”’

The unemployment estimates are calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Delaware Department of Labor based on surveys sent to businesses and are later modified as payroll data is received by the government.

Dr. Sharpley said the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported more job openings than workers in May for the first time since the bureau began tracking those numbers in 2000.

“It’s the first time in a decade that the total number of unemployed in Delaware has fallen to less than 20,000,” he said. “It’s not that that’s a particularly significant number, I think people just like these round numbers. It’s a marker.”

Unemployment figures for the state’s other two counties in May were 3.4 percent in New Castle and 3.3 percent in Sussex.

The May numbers add up to a promising outlook for workers.

The national unemployment rate dropped to an 18-year low of 3.8 in May and employers hired more people than economists had forecast, according to the jobs report released Friday.

Wages also grew faster than expected — a sign the tighter labor market is prompting employers to pay workers more, according to

“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” President Donald Trump tweeted last Friday. The president and other senior members of his administration can view the report the day before it’s released.

Just more than half of those unemployed in Delaware in May were male, but over the past year their average period of unemployment has been much shorter than those of women – 19.1 weeks vs. 26.1 weeks for women.

A total of 54 percent of the unemployed were White, 35 percent African-American and 10 percent Hispanic.

The job outlook appears to be more promising — at least for the near-future.

“It’s just continuation of a trend that’s been in place for a number of months now,” Dr. Sharpley said. “There’s really not been anything in particular that’s been driving it that I can see, it’s just a continuation of a trend.”

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