DOVER — Data suggests a slow recovery for Delaware, much like the nation, from the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decrease in jobs last year.
The Delaware Department of Labor’s monthly review for July reports that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6%, compared to 5.8% in June.
The state’s unemployment rate has fluctuated between 5% and 6% since dropping from more than 7% in September 2020. This July’s rate is the lowest it has been since before March 2020.
According to the report, there were 27,200 unemployed Delawareans in July. That number is in sharp contrast to July 2020, when 40,400 people were unemployed. This July, the state had a total civilian labor force of 489,100. Of those able to work, 461,900 were employed.
At the national level, the unemployment rate was 5.4% in July, versus 5.9% in June.
Comparing unemployment rates of July 2020 and July 2021 reveals a cautiously optimistic picture. In July of last year, Delaware’s unemployment rate was a little more than 8%, compared to July 2021’s 5.6%.
State unemployment numbers remain the highest in Kent County, with a rate of 6.8% there. New Castle County saw a 5.6% rate in July, while Sussex’s was 4.3%.
According to the review, the amount of jobs available to Delawareans also is increasing. It reported a net gain of 20,000 nonfarm jobs since July 2020, which constitutes a rise of 4.6%.
The majority of the new positions in Delaware are within the trades/transportation/utilities sector, making up 19%. That is followed by education and health, at 17%, and government, at 15%.
Nationally, jobs have increased by 5.3% between July 2020 and July 2021, according to the review.
The Associated Press reported in August that U.S. employers added 943,000 jobs in July, which exceeded economists’ forecast of more than 860,000 new jobs.
Wages also are rising across the nation, with the average hourly earning up 4% in July from earlier in the year, according to AP.
In Delaware, wages have increased incrementally, too. In July, hourly earnings were on average $28.67, compared to $28.54 in June and $28.10 in July 2020.
While the state and nation recovers and adds jobs, the U.S. Labor Department is reminding employers and employees of their rights during Labor Rights Week. Its message is that all workers, regardless of immigration status, are granted rights.
As an example of rights violations, construction workers, which make up about 5% of the total nonfarm jobs in Delaware, often aren’t provided with personal protective equipment, a news release from the state DOL said.
Labor Rights Week, Aug. 30-Sept. 3, aims to inform workers of their right to a safe and fair workplace, fair pay and the right to report possible violations without retaliation.
For resources, available in English, Spanish and other languages, visit here.
“Many immigrant workers have performed essential duties throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the release stated. “It is important that they have meaningful access to information about their rights as they work diligently during these challenging times. It’s also important that employers understand their responsibilities and meet their obligations.”
For example, garment workers are paid for each piece they sew, but those wages are less than the federal minimum wage, DOL said, adding that dishwashers are often told to work overtime without pay.
“Some aren’t aware of their rights because their employers failed to provide or did not provide it in a language they understand,” the release said. “Some are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.”