Another month, another rise in Delaware’s unemployment rate

Close up of a dictionary word

Close up of a dictionary word "unemployment" (Courtesy of Bigstock)

Delaware’s unemployment rate stands at 4.9 percent for August, that’s half a percent higher than the same time last year.

23,500 Delawareans were unemployed in August, according to the Delaware Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information. That’s 3,000 more people than were unemployed one year ago. Delaware’s August unemployment rate of 4.9 percent is higher than the national average which stands at 4.4 percent in August.

It’s not exactly clear what is to blame for the state’s increasing unemployment rate. From July to August, sectors that saw job losses include construction (down 0.2 percent), transportation and utilities (down 0.6 percent), and state government (down 0.4 percent). There was an increase in jobs in some sectors over that time frame including wholesale trade (up 0.3 percent) and professional/business services (up 1.0 percent).

Analysis released by the Department of Labor said it’s not exactly clear whether the rise in the state’s unemployment rate is actually happening or not. The apparent rise could be a sign of “statistical noise” that cloud the true unemployment numbers. “In both 2014 and 2015, Delaware’s unemployment rate rose above the national rate, only to later be revised back down below it,” the DOL analysis said. “In 2014, revisions in some months were a full percentage point.”

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The report points to the state GDP and slow job growth at Delaware businesses as signs that the 4.9 percent rate might actually be correct. But there are some other factors, like fluctuation in the state’s working-age teen population, that point to statistical problems with the 4.9 percent rate.

Broken down locally, Wilmington’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.9 percent in August from 7.5 percent in July. A year ago, Wilmington’s unemployment rate was a full percentage point lower at 6.9 percent.

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