Jobless rate remains steady as focus turns to those out of the workforce

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Delaware’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate in March was 4.5 percent, unchanged from 4.5 percent in February.

The report is issued monthly by the Delaware Department of Labor.

The jobless rate for the state now matches the nation’s unemployment rate, a relative rarity in recent decades. At times, the state’s jobless rate was often a half percent below the national figure.

At times, the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent in Delaware.

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There were 21,500 unemployed Delawareans in March 2017 compared to 21,000 in March 2016. In March 2016 the U.S. unemployment rate was 5 percent, while Delaware’s rate was 4.4 percent.

2017-03 MLR

In March seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment was 457,000 up from 456,500 in February 2017. Since March 2016, Delaware’s total nonfarm jobs have increased by a net gain of 4,400, a rise of 1 percent. Nationally, jobs during that period increased 1.5 percent.

Two white collar job categories, financial services and business and professional services saw employment declines of 200 and 900 respectively over the past year

Manufacturing and construction employed remained relatively steady during the March to March period.

The March labor report took a look at the higher jobless rate and low workforce participation rate among workers without high school degrees.

For the 12 months ending in March, the unemployment rate for the 63,300 Delawareans 25 years old and up without a high school diploma or GED was 7.8 percent.

For the 232,200 people with a high school degree or equivalent, but no college it was 4.8 percent, while the 357,100 people who have attended college had an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent.

However, 43.3 percent of those without a high school diploma were employed in the last year, with most not counted in unemployment statistics, since they are not participating in the workforce.

For high school graduates with no college experience, the participation rate rises to 57.7 percent.

By contrast, 73.2 percent with a bachelor’s or higher are in the labor force, with 70.8 listed as employed.

People 65 years old and up are slightly more likely to have not finished high school, which helps explain the lower labor participation rate. However, the age group with the greatest percentage of non-high school graduates is the 18 to 24 group.

The labor participation rate is becoming a national issue as some employers struggle to find skilled and entry level workers.

Delaware also faces a nearly $400 million budget gap, made worse by a sizable part of the workforce not paying taxes.

Delaware has been working to decrease the high school dropout rate, with one piece of legislation calling for students to be required to stay in school until age 18. Also offered are scholarships that allow high school grads to attend Delaware Technical Community College tuition free.

Efforts have also been made to lessen the impact of non-violent felony convictions that make it difficult for some people to get jobs.

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