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Sussex Countian
  • Sussex County unemployment numbers decrease, major employers expand operations

  • A slow decline in Sussex County’s unemployment numbers could yield a silver lining for those who have struggled since 2008, when the area saw its first major jump in jobless residents.
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  • A slow decline in Sussex County’s unemployment numbers could yield a silver lining for those who have struggled since 2008, when the area saw its first major jump in jobless residents.
    According to the most recent data available from the Delaware Department of Labor, Sussex County’s unemployment rate in April sat at 7.3 percent, a considerable decrease from March’s 8.1 percent, February’s 8.7 percent and January’s 8.9 percent.
    This is not uncommon for the area during this time of year, according to Julie Wheatley, program director for the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee.
    Thanks to job opportunities in the beach area, “whenever we make a graph on unemployment in Sussex County, it looks like a wave because it goes up in the winter and down in the summer,” Wheatley said.
    However, the Department of Labor is reporting an annual decrease in Sussex County unemployment numbers. In the decade prior to 2008, unemployment in Sussex County lingered around 3 percent. It then shot up to 5 percent in 2008 and increased again in 2009 to 7.9 percent. That number stayed the same in 2010, but decreased to 7.5 percent in 2011. Last year, unemployment again decreased to 7 percent.
    The jobs, according to Wheatley, are mostly found in the manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and healthcare fields.
    “Those are the four major employment sectors in Sussex County,” she said, adding that several major players in the area are expanding.
    For example, Wheatley said, in healthcare, the Salisbury, Md.-based Peninsula Regional Medical Center is building a new facility in Millsboro, the Lewes-based Beebe Medical Center is building a new facility in Georgetown, and Milford Memorial Hospital is planning a $25 million expansion of its current facilities. In manufacturing, ILC/Grayling Industries is planning to move 115 jobs to the Seaford area from Mexico later this year as part of its plastic containment systems manufacturing operation.
    The Department of Labor is also predicting continued growth and expansion in those major employment areas. The agency recently released a list of the top 10 job titles predicted for 2018 employment in Sussex County. The top five are office and administrative support occupations, sales and related occupations, food preparation and serving occupations, production occupations, and retail sales workers.
    For residents currently seeking employment, there are various sources of assistance available in Sussex County.
    The Georgetown Job Center is housed in the Georgetown Public Library, located at 123 W. Pine Street.
    Dean Dey, community resources librarian at the Job Center, said a myriad of services are available to local job seekers.
    “We begin with helping people create a resume,” Dey said. “Then we help them search for jobs, and we expand their thoughts in terms of what types of skills might be transferrable to careers outside of their field.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Dey said the center also conducts mock interviews and offers several skill building courses in subjects like computers, money management and entrepreneurship.
    “We’re trying to do what we can to improve the job situation in the county,” he said.
    A wide variety of people, ranging from those in recovery houses to unemployed professionals, utilize the center, Dey said.
    Contact the Georgetown Job Center by phone at (302) 270-4829, by email at dean.dey@lib.de.us, or online at lib.de.us/jobcenter.
    Services are also available at the Delaware Department of Labor Division of Employment and Training, located at 600 N. Dupont Highway, Suite 207, in Georgetown.
    Renee Roberson, area operations manager for the Division of Employment in Sussex County, said the office offers computerized resume-building software through Delaware Job Link.
    “You’re able to create a resume by just checking boxes, and when you’re done, you have a nice product on your hands,” Roberson said. “Clients really seem to like this product.”
    Roberson said the office also houses a job center that allows clients to work independently. Available are computers, a fax machine and a telephone. Career planning and computer workshops are also offered through the job center. Special services are available for veterans and the disabled.
    Contact the Division of Employment and Training by phone at 856-5230 or online at det.delawareworks.com.
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