Delaware’s jobless rare dips sightly to 4.4%

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Delaware’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February 2018 was 4.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in January, the Delaware Department of Labor reported.

That’s above the U.S. jobless rate of 4.1 percent and reflects slow job growth in the First State.

In its monthly commentary, the department took note of the long-term growth in Delaware employment since the recession.

There were 21,100 unemployed Delawareans in February compared to 22,000 in February 2017. In February 2017 when Delaware’s rate was 4.6 percent.

In February 2018, seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment was 456,800, down from 457,100 in January 2018. Since February 2017, Delaware’s total nonfarm job total hasincreased by 900, a gain of 0.2 percent. Nationally, jobs during that period increased 1.6 percent.

Delaware’s job growth has slowed lately to a pace below that of the nation and neighboring states, but this is more likely due to the typical ups and downs of a small state than indicative of a long-term systemic problem.

US growth of 1.6 percent last year outstrips any neighboring state. Job growth rates were: New Jersey, 1.3 percent; Pennsylvania 1.1 percent; Maryland, 0.9 percent; and Delaware, 0.6 percent. Over the past two years, the story is much the same. Go back a few more years and the story changes.

Since the Great Recession of 2009, none of the neighboring states had a single year of 2 percent growth. The US had one year (2015), while Delaware managed three consecutive years of over 2 percent growth (2013-2015).

Still, Delaware job growth has run ahead of its neighbors, since 2012, even with the recent slowdown.

Over the last five years, Delaware had 8.6 percent job growth, while New Jersey grew by 6.1 percent, Maryland by 5.6 percent, and Pennsylvania by 3.8 percent. The US edged out Delaware with 9.3 percent growth.

The job growth slowdown has not been good news to Democrats and Gov. John Carney. Critics have claimed the slow growth is due to the economic policies of the majority party.

Supporters point to slower job growth throughout the region as a key factor.

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