A state task force looking for ways to jump start “blue collar” job creation in Delaware will be asking residents of the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area for suggestions on Tuesday.
The 22-member Delaware Blue Collar Jobs Task Force will meet at Middletown Town Hall at 5:30 p.m. for its second of four public hearings planned throughout the state this fall.
“Blue collar jobs are the backbone of our economy and our middle class,” said state Rep. Michael Mulrooney (D-Pennwood), a co-chair of the task force that also includes business and labor leaders. “In recent years, blue collar jobs have taken a huge hit, which has left thousands of Delaware families struggling. We need to find ways to bring more blue collar jobs to Delaware and help rebuild our middle class.”
As of July, Delaware’s unemployment rate was at 7.6 percent – one-tenth of a percentage point better than the national rate – with more than 32,000 residents looking for work, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The unemployment rate in New Castle County was at 7.8 percent, which put it ahead of Kent County at 8.1 percent, but behind Sussex County, which record a rate of 6.4.
Statewide, the number of employed workers in “blue collars” sectors like construction and manufacturing has slipped over the past year or made only marginal gains, compared to the white collar sectors like information, financial and professional services.
While companies like the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Middletown have added 1,600 jobs in the past year, the Evraz steel plant in Claymont announced today it would be suspending operations by year’s end, leaving about 375 works out of a job, while Georgia-Pacific announced Friday that it soon would be closing its Delaware Color-Box facility in Harrington, leaving nearly 100 works without jobs.
“We know this is a very real problem that’s causing a lot of pain for hard-working Delawareans,” state Sen. Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington West), who authored the legislation that created the Blue Collar Jobs Task Force. “And we also know that people may have some very good, inventive solutions to the problem. That’s why we want the public to come out and join with us in finding answers.”