The 3.3 percent jobless rate hurdle

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Good afternoon,

Delaware’s recently announced March unemployment rate of 3.3 percent is at or near a modern-day low.

But we may want to wait to pop the corks on the champagne.

In its monthly analysis, the Delaware Department of Labor noted that the 3.3 percent figure has been the high-water mark. In the past, jobless rates in the low to mid threes are often followed by economic downturns.

So far, 2019 does not feel like boom times or the early stages of a downturn.

It may have something to do with aninteresting stat in the March report. Even though Delaware’s jobless rate is below the national figure, the percentage of job growth isbelow the U.S. rate.

That would seem to suggest that a sizable number of workers are staying on the sidelines for a variety of reasons.

One sign of the end of a cycle,higher wages that trigger inflationary pressures, is not in the picture, nationally, or in Delaware.

Yet another indicator, soaring housing prices, hasn’t entered the picture in Delaware. Homes in some categories are in short supply, but prices have not soared.

Still, the Labor Department is not discounting the possibility that the March jobless figure is indeed thehigh-water mark.

After all, Delaware’s jobless figures are subject to adjustments.

In the past couple of years, initial Delaware’s jobless reports seemed to suggest a more sluggish economy was at work. Later adjustments that reflected payroll data rather than estimates, led to a lower unemployment rate and somewhat strong job growth.

This time around, the Labor Department suggests jobless rates for 2019 could be adjusted upward.

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