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Del. unemployment reaches 14% in April as about 75K jobs lost

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate reached a modern record of 14.3% in April, as the state reportedly lost nearly 75,000 jobs in response to the coronavirus pandemic, officials reported Friday.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was in line with the national rate, which sat at 14.7% in April, but it marked a huge jump from Delaware’s 5% March unemployment rate.

At 14.3%, it is also the state’s highest recorded monthly unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which started tracking state figures in 1976. It is also 46% higher than the previous record of 9.8% in November and December 1976. The highest monthly rate recorded in the past decade was 8.8% in January 2010, just as the full impact of the Great Recession was felt.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report, which is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day, showed that 66,700 workers were unemployed. Tom Dougherty, chief labor market economist for the department, explained that the monthly unemployment figure is created from looking at continuous unemployment insurance claims as well as a BLS survey of residents on their employment status.

The official monthly unemployment statistic tracks not only those receiving benefits, but also those who ineligible, such as terminated employees and the self-employed, who only became eligible for assistance under a special federal program established under the CARES Act.

While more than 95,000 workers have filed for unemployment assistance in the wake of the pandemic, most because of statewide business closures mandated by Gov. John Carney to stem the spread of the virus, the state also had 19,400 unemployed workers in January, before the pandemic struck the U.S.

Dougherty said it’s important to remember that the monthly report is just a “snapshot” of one week in time.

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