By Kathy Canavan
DBT Senior Writer
Delawareans may feel the economy is still down, but data show things are actually looking up. The state added 5,710 jobs in 2012 and 8,450 in 2013, and it’s on track to beat those numbers this year.
“There still seems to be a perception that we’re still in a recession, but that’s not true at all,” said Dr. George Sharpley, chief of the state office of Occupational & Labor Market information.
Food and beverage stores added 710 jobs. There were 1,210 new jobs in professional and technical services. The financial sector gained 1,010 jobs. Vehicle and parts dealers grew 330 jobs. Building material stores and garden supply stores hired 240 more workers. The retail sector added 1,650 workers. Construction added 360 jobs, mostly in Kent County.
“We have had a pretty decent mix of new jobs,” Sharpley said. “Sure there are jobs in fast food restaurants, but there have also been new jobs at the highest pay levels. The growth has been fairly broad.”
Have the impression most new jobs are part-time? That’s incorrect too, Sharpley said.
“I just looked at the last 12 months ending in August compared to the preceding 12 months, and part-time jobs are up 600, and full-time jobs are up 11,700,” he said. “Clearly, most of the jobs that have been created are full-time jobs.”
Think many Delawareans are working two jobs to make ends meet? Wrong again. About seven percent of Delaware workers are moonlighting.
Believe the poor get poorer and the rich get richer? You’re actually right on that one.
Who is richer: Management of Companies and Enterprises, the highest-paying job sector in the state, paid an average of $143,592 in 2013, up 11.1 percent from 2012. Utilities wages rose to an average of $98,436, a 3.2 percent hike. Wages also rose in the Finance and Insurance sector, which pays an average of $92,204 in New Castle County.
Who is poorer: Wages dropped in the Administrative and Waste Services sector, where the average wage varies from $33,980 in New Castle County to $26,580 in Sussex County. Wages for Arts, Entertainment and Recreation workers – the bulk of them casino workers – fell in all three counties. Sussex County wages fell the most in this sector, down 5.2 percent to $26,568.
“The good-paying jobs tend to go up and the lower-paying jobs tend to go down,” said Sharpley, a Ph.D. economist who has been following the data for 22 years.
Sharpley said he’s noticed a big increase in the number of scientific research jobs across Delaware, not just with large employers. Scientific research, which pays an average of $126,133, added 500 jobs in 2012 and another 460 last year for a total of 6,800 within the state.
The information sector tanked in 2013, losing 160 jobs – 110 in telecommunications, 50 in data processing, and 10 in publishing. Still, it was an improvement over 2012, when the sector lost 330 jobs. Now there are 900 workers employed in the publishing industry, 2,240 in telecommunications and 1,320 in data processing — the highest-paying subsector with average wages of $79,664. All the lost jobs in this sector were in New Castle County.
The portion of the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector that includes what people traditionally think of as “the arts” – museums and performing arts — actually gained jobs in 2013.
Many artists, who are often self-employed, are not included in the totals. The roughly 26,000 self-employed persons who work in Delaware are not reflected in the payroll data.
Sharpley said another sign that the economy is improving is the healthy numbers at temporary employment agencies, which traditionally do well at the beginning of a recovery when employers want to expand but are wary of taking on new staffers.
“The overall picture is the economy is growing. Every indication is it’s further accelerating in 2014,” Sharpley said. “Some people think I’m overly optimistic, but the data are what the data are. The data comes from complete payroll records. It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact.”
Governor Jack Markell touted job growth: “These numbers equate to real jobs for hardworking men and women and are consistent with what we know: job growth in Delaware has consistently outpaced the national average over the past year and we are recognized as one of the top two states best positioned for the new economy. That being said, there are plenty of people still looking for work, which is why we remain focused on ongoing efforts to train a quality workforce that meets the needs of today’s high-skill economy, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and making it easier for companies to build or grow their business in our state.”
Charlie Copeland, chairman of the Delaware State Republican Committee, disagreed: “In August of 2013, weekly hours were 32.9, and, a year later, we’re at 33.4, so that’s a half an hour more. “Weekly private-sector hourly earnings in August 2013 were $21.51, and today it’s $21.39, which is lower. So I can’t square that circle because I’m just using what the Delaware Department of Labor’s putting out. The average private worker in Delaware is working a half hour more and they’re making, on an hourly basis, 12 cents less. People are working, but they’re working more hours for less money.”