Unemployment up in First State, down in nation

DOVER — Fear not, Delawareans.

Yes, the First State’s unemployment rate inched up in September while the jobless numbers dropped nationally during the same time.

Last month’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Delaware was 4 percent, up from 3.9 percent in August. The United States’ rates were 3.7 percent in September, down from 3.9 percent in August.

“While most here would probably prefer that the roles were reversed, it is not clear that there is much difference in the two labor markets,” the Delaware Department of Labor’s monthly review for September released Friday declared.

That trend doesn’t indicate that the local economy is out of step with what are generally considered robust job conditions nationally.

“Nothing indicates that Delaware’s economy is in trouble,” said Dr. George Sharpley, chief of the Delaware Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information.”The national economy is fine if not great, and the Delaware economy is fine.”

Here’s some good news statewide: Delaware’s median duration of unemployment fell below 10 weeks for the first time in a decade in September. The 9.9 weeks of average unemployment here trails the national median of 9.3 weeks.

Also, the average length of unemployment is 20.4 weeks, compared to 23.4 nationally.

“This indicates that very long spells of unemployment are a little less common in Delaware — 18 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for over six months in the state, versus 22 percent in the nation,” the DOL said.

Moving forward, Dr. Sharpley said “I expect the economy to remain strong for at least the near future. I think that a year from now that might not be the case but at this point that’s just an opinion.

“In the modern world people expect things to change on a dime and economies don’t work that way,” Dr. Sharpley said.

In the past year, the number of employed Delaware residents rose by 1.9 percent, topping the 1.1 percent added nationally. There were 19,300 unemployed Delawareans last month, compared to 21,700 in September 2017.

The number of unemployed nationally is down 12 percent and 7 percent in the First State, according to the DOL. In Delaware, the number of professional and business services jobs have risen 2.3 percent in the past 12 months through September.


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