Employment in Delaware: Are Businesses Struggling to Hire as We Emerge From The Pandemic?

We’re not entirely there yet, but the US economy is undoubtedly opening back up, meaning folks are getting back to more traditional work days and their old daily routines.

Employment in Delaware

Americans are flocking to vaccination centers to ensure they’re protected against COVID-19, the virus that brought the world to a screeching halt in early 2020. This should be good news, as businesses that have been closed or operating at partial capacity for the past year-plus can begin to bounce back financially.

Surprisingly, however, businesses in Delaware are reporting that it’s difficult to find employees, something that’s hard to explain given the massive layoffs and pay cuts that occurred as global commerce was disrupted by the effects of the pandemic.

The rapid retirement rate of baby boomers is also partly to blame for the loss of skilled workers. “We can’t build technicians with technical skills fast enough, and we have to do that to stay competitive,” said Michael Quaranta, President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve used up the ranks of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, HVAC, welders, and all tradesmen….The sooner we can help employees of all ages and industries understand that training, development and re-scaling are a constant in their life, the better we will be.”

Unemployment Benefits in Delaware

Generous unemployment benefits are a major reason why people are unwilling to accept employment right now. Imagine if you were struggling and would earn less in your job than you earn through unemployment benefits. While not the respectable thing to do, the choice many are making is to take  unemployment payments if they’re more than your wages in a low-paying job.

“If I’m making such and such money from unemployment insurance, I’m reluctant to take a job that pays the same or less,” said Thomas Dougherty, chief of the Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information.

Currently, folks can go through the Department of Labor to file for standard unemployment, federal pandemic unemployment compensation, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, and pandemic unemployment assistance. Most Americans also received at least two direct payments from the federal government over the past 12 to 18 months, padding peoples’ income from unemployment.

Delaware, for its part, temporarily waived the requirement that people receiving unemployment must actively look for jobs. While that rule is expected to be reinstated this summer, it enabled many folks to file claims under zero pressure to find gainful employment.

COVID in Delaware

The residents of Delaware have made great strides in terms of vaccination and the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, 69.3% of those 18 or older have received at least one dose, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, 82% of people aged 65 and up are fully vaccinated, as are 59% of the 18 and up population.

Since the onset of the pandemic there have been 1,693 deaths in the state of Delaware. The good news, though, is that new cases are going down as vaccination rates go up. New cases over a 7-day average were in the 700s and 800s last December and January, but are all the way down to 21 as of June 24, with just 23 hospitalizations throughout the state.

How can we get Delawareans back to work?

It’s critical Delawareans get back to work. Sure, it’s fantastic that the government stepped up and helped folks with their financial difficulties by offering expanded unemployment benefits. That said, it’s time to reignite the economy, and that means our population must rejoin the workforce.

Pandemic assistance is going to run dry, and that alone should cause many to get serious about finding a job.

In August 2020 Gov. John Carney signed Executive Order #43, which created a training and redeployment program to help get displaced workers back into the workforce. Training programs in the so-called rapid workforce development initiative focus on occupations and skills currently in demand in Delaware.

What the Future Holds

As more Delawareans get their second dose and become fully inoculated, we’ll see businesses continue to open up. And as favorable unemployment benefits begin to disappear, we’ll see more individuals clawing to get back into the workforce.

If you are interested in getting your COVID 19 vaccination in Delaware, you can find more information here.