State unemployment rate rises 0.2% in October
Delaware’s unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a point to 3.7% in October, slightly above the U.S. unemployment rate. The state Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information says there are some underlying signs of weakness in the labor market. The share of job losers (those who have been laid off or have completed temporary jobs) has increased to 75% of the unemployed from just under 40% one year ago, according to unpublished unemployment data from the Delaware Current Population Survey. The share of job leavers and re-entrants who voluntarily enter the pool of unemployed seeking better opportunities has fallen to under 20% from just over 50% a year ago. Analysts said the increase in the number of job losers combined with a decrease in voluntary unemployment of job leavers and re-entrants seeking better opportunities could be a sign of labor market weakness in the months ahead.
Within the state, Dover has the state’s highest unemployment rate – 5.7%, up from 4.4% a year earlier. The city of Wilmington is next at 5.0%, up from 5.0 percent in October 2018.
–Delaware Department of Labor,
Monthly Labor Review (October 2019)
October hotel occupancy falls, but numbers are stable YTD
Delaware hotel occupancy rates for October 2019 fell nearly 3 percentage points over year-earlier figures, with statewide levels at 61.3% last month vs. 64.1% in October 2018. Occupancy rates in New Castle County fell to 67.3% from 73.2% and Kent County fell to 54.4% from 59.5%. The bright spot was in Sussex County, which saw an increase to 55.6% from 52.8% a year earlier.
That said, the state has seen an overall increase year-to-date in occupancy rates to 62.6% from 60.8% in 2018. All three counties have seen YTD increases, with New Castle County leading the way at 65.3% (from 64.4% in 2018), Sussex at 60.4% (from 57.9%), and Kent at 58.6%, a slight increase over 2018’s 55.9%.
The Delaware Hotel-Lodging Association released the survey, which received responses from 90 of the state’s 157 properties. Only 23 of the Sussex County properties responded, representing 1,846 rooms of the total 4,180 rooms.
Manufacturing activity in region continues growth
Manufacturing activity in the region continued to grow, according to results from the Philadelphia Fed’s October Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. Broad indicators remained generally positive: General activity and shipments indicators decreased from their readings last month, but the indicators for new orders and employment increase. The Fed said the numbers suggested “continued optimism abut growth for the next six months.
More than 34% of the firms surveyed reported higher employment, while only 2% reported lower employment, and an increase in new orders. Although they remained positive, the indicators for general activity and shipments fell from September levels.
Beige Book says business growth continues at modest pace
The October edition of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Beige Book said business activity in the district continued “at a modest pace of growth,” with non-auto retail sales and manufacturing accelerating at a moderate pace and manufacturing and tourism continuing at a modest pace. The Philadelphia Fed said construction activity for residential and nonresidential buildings and commercial leasing appeared to hold steady after declines in the previous period. Sales of new autos and of existing homes continued to decline at a slight and a moderate pace, respectively.
The Beige Book said the companies the Fed surveyed feel relatively positive about the outlook for growth over the next six months, but it has softened with less than half of all firms anticipating increases in general activity.
Study: Health care increases for Del. employees slowing
A new study by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation focused on health care and policy, of health care costs for employees around the country found that while Delawareans’ costs have increased, they did so beneath nationwide averages.
In 2018, average employee contributions to premiums fell to $1,340 from $1,407 in 2016 on single-coverage plans and rose to $4,564 from $4,231 on combined plans with family members, according to the study. Nationwide, average contributions to premiums on single-coverage plans rose from $1,325 to $1,427 and from $4,050 to $4,396 on combined plans.
Average deductible costs for Delawareans also rose from $1,567 to $1,710 for single-coverage plans and $2,662 to $2,871 for combined coverage.
Statewide, the total potential out-of-pocket costs, including employee contributions and deductibles, rose from $6,893 in 2016 to $7,435 in 2018. Two years ago, the cost represented about 12.6% of the Delaware’s median income, whereas in 2018 it represented about 10.2%.
Nationwide, the total potential out-of-pocket costs rose from $6,776 in 2016 to $7,338 in 2018. Two years ago, the cost represented about 11.3% of the nation’s median income, whereas in 2018 it represented about 11.5%.