Delaware jobless rate down

    Delaware is not out of the unemployment woods yet, but the numbers suggest things are improving during the month of November.

    Delaware’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in November to 8.5 percent, according to the state Labor Department.

    That compares to a jobless rate of 5.6 percent a year ago, but is down from 8.6 percent in October.

    George Sharpley, Labor Market Economist with the Labor Department, calls it a morsel of positive data in a time of predominantly bad news.

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    “It’s certainly better news,” Sharpley said. “To me it’s indicating that we’re probably approaching a turning point where we’re going to see some ups and downs in the data before it starts turning more positive, probably in the spring.”

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    Delaware still has a long way to go before approaching the 4 to 5 percent unemployment rate range before the recession.

    “I don’t think we’ll get back to those levels for at least several years,” Sharpley said.

    There were 36,300 unemployed Delawareans in November 2009 compared to 25,000 in November 2008.

    The national unemployment rate was 10 percent, down from 10.2 percent last month.

    Kent County fared the best in the state at 7.6 percent. New Castle County fell from 8.6 percent to 8 percent. The news wasn’t as good in Sussex County, where the rate increased from 8.3 percent to 8.5 percent.

    Over the last 12 months the only industry to see an increase in jobs was education and health, with a gain of 1,300 jobs. The manufacturing sector took the biggest hit, losing 3,900 jobs in the last year.

    “Manufacturing has been hit very hard with some very high-profile closings of the auto plants and now the oil refinery in Delaware City,” Sharpley said.

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