April Delaware jobless rate above national average

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Signs of a slowdown in the Delaware economy are becoming more evident as the state’s unemployment rate ended up a couple of ticks higher than the national figure in April.

The Delaware Department of Labor reported an April jobless rate of 4.6 percent, up from 4.5 percent in March.

There were 22,000 unemployed Delawareans in April 2017 compared to 20,900 in April 2016.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in April down from 4.5 percent in March 2017. In April 2016 the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.0 percent, while Delaware’s rate was 4.4 percent.

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According to the jobs report “evidence has accumulated over the past few months that Delaware’s economy has slowed relative to the rest of the nation.

In addition to a jobless rate that is higher than the national figure, average hourly earnings in the US rose by 2.5 percent in 2016, where in Delaware the average wage fell by 0.3 percent.Job growth in the state has been slower than the nation since 2015, and newly released complete payroll data show that after gaining nearly 13,000 jobs in 2014 and 8,200 in 2015, the state lost 560 jobs in 2016.

The commentary noted that “a small state’s job growth can hinge on the changing fortunes of relatively few firms, and Delaware’s job totals have been 25 percent more variable than the nation’s since data collection on began in 1939.”

The report continued, “It is too early to tell if this is just a temporary change or something more fundamental, but examining the industries driving the change may be instructive. The biggest turnaround has been in transportation and warehousing, where the unusually strong growth of 6,000 jobs over the previous four years reversed to nearly 700 jobs lost in 2016.”

The report also noted that administrative service lost 1,150 jobs and retail trade lost 600 jobs. Retail trade has seen declines nationwide. Administrative jobs include temp agencies and can precede broader downturns.

Administrative services lost 1,150 jobs; cutbacks here in areas like temp, to some measure, precede broader slowdowns; while the loss of over 600 jobs in Retail Trade appears to be part of a national trend. Job growth also slowed in Finance, Professional Services, Health Care, and Food Services.”

The somber jobs report comes as the General Assembly deals with sluggish growth in tax revenues that have contributed to $380 million budget gaps. Delaware relies on the personal income tax, which reflects the sluggish growth pattern.

Delaware had long enjoyed an employment rate that was well below the national average thanks in part to the influx of banking jobs, beginning in the 1980s.

That also spurred activity in real estate and other areas.

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