Sussex and New Castle countiessaw significantgains in wage growth, with the state’s southernmost county also seeing a big gain in overall employment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report noted thattotal employment in Sussex rose 2.7 percent, with New Castle County up one half of one percent, the agency reported over the summer.
Sheila Watkins, the bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the employment increase in Sussex County was almost twice the national increase of 1.5 percent and ranked 52ndamong the 346 U.S. large counties for employment change.
Employment increased in 316 of the 346 largest U.S. counties from December 2016 to December 2017. Midland, Texas, had the largest percentage increase, with a gain of 11.5 percent over the year. Employment declined in 25 large counties during this period. Caddo, LA., and Shawnee, KS, had the largest over-the-year percentage decreases in employment (-1.8 percent each).
New Castle County’s employment in December 2017 was 293,300 and accounted for about two-thirds of Delaware’s total employment. Sussex County’s employment was 77,000 in December 2017, which made up 17.3 percent of Delaware’s total employment.
The average weekly wage in Sussex County increased 3.2 percent over the year in December 2017, ranking 151stamong the largest U.S. counties for wage change. The average weekly wage in New Castle County rose 2.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017, ranking 227th. Over the year, the national average weekly wage increased 3.9 percent.
New Castle County’s average weekly wage of $1,195 ranked 62ndamong the 346 largest counties, and Sussex County ranked 325thwith an average weekly wage of $817. The average weekly wage in New Castle County was 7.8 percent higher than the U.S. average weekly wage of $1,109 in the fourth quarter of 2017.
While, Sussex has seen wage growth, its low average wage leads to affordability issues for low and middle-income residents, given the relatively high cost of homes and apartments.
Less detailed employment and wage trends were available for Kent County, the only county in Delaware with employment below 75,000.
Kent County had an average weekly wage of $845, more than 20 percent below the national average of $1,109.