Slight dip in Delaware employment for first time this year

DOVER — About 600 fewer Delawareans were employed in August than in the month prior, according to data released Friday by the Delaware Department of Labor.

In all, the number of employed residents fell from 473,100 to 472,500,
the preliminary data reveals. The information, which is based off employer surveys, also estimates the state’s unemployment rate increased to 3.4 percent in August.

Nationally, 3.7 percent of the job-seeking population was out of work last month.

August also marks the first time this year Delaware has seen a decrease in the number of residents with jobs, after a decline of 100 individuals last month was revised to indicate no change this month.

The news comes as financial experts warn the United States could be slipping toward a recession, concerns shared by some economists locally.

“The August decline in employed residents stands as the biggest drop since 2009 but is nowhere near on par with then. Delaware’s current economy appears to be experiencing a mild slowdown, not anything like the meltdown ten years ago,” George Sharpley, chief of the Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information in the Department of Labor, wrote in a commentary released along with the figures.

Delaware’s unemployment rate started the year strong, falling 0.1 percent every month through April. Since then, however, that growth has first slowed and then been reversed.
Still, unemployment has remained comparatively (very) low, below 4 percent every month this year after a decade above that level.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 3.2 percent unemployment seen in the First State in April, May and June was last matched in 1989.

Per the local stats released Friday, unemployment was 3.5 percent in Sussex, 4.1 percent in New Castle and 4.8 percent in Kent last month.

Crucially, however, the county rates are not seasonally adjusted.
Dr. Sharpley’s commentary notes over the past 12 months just 5.7 percent of job-seeking Delaware teenagers are out of work, well below the 12.8 percent rate seen nationally.

The labor force participation rate for teenagers is 34.9 percent in the United States and 37.6 percent in Delaware.
Over the past 12 months, Delaware has gained about 7,200 jobs, according to a preliminary estimate.

The education and health sectors combined have banked about 2,800 of them, while professional and business services have seen a decrease of 1,900, although that data could be revised in future months.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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