by Mark DiMaio
In 2000, Delaware had a 65+ population of 103,000 and by 2015, the 65+ population had grown by 56,000 to 159,000 people. During the same time period, the state’s health care employment had grown from the third largest employment sector (40,000) to the largest sector with 70,000 jobs. The growth of health care employment is keeping pace with not only our 65+ population growth, but with the state’s overall population growth. Delaware’s growing aging population is likely to spur continued growth in the health care job sector. Over the past 15 years, Delaware's finance job sector has hovered around 48,000 jobs, but our manufacturing sector has decreased by 12,000 to 28,000 jobs. Delaware’s manufacturing job sector decline mirrors much of what has taken place nationally. But over the past six years, Delaware’s manufacturing sector decline has slightly outpaced the national trend. It’s wonderful that our health care job sector continues to grow, but Delaware needs to keep a diverse employment environment, and manufacturing jobs need to play a key role.
A study by Ed Ratledge, Director of the Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research at the University of Delaware, points out that Delaware’s General fund expenditures will outpace the state’s revenue collection, and forecasts a gap to continue beyond 2020. While Delaware’s employment picture has greatly improved since 2008, manufacturing jobs have been slow to return. Growth in the manufacturing sector is critical to a prosperous Delaware. Manufacturing employment can create not only well-paying jobs, but drive employment in the job sectors that service those businesses. The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce is committed to working with stakeholders to revitalize Delaware’s manufacturing sector and drive economic growth. Diversified economic growth is essential to building a thriving Delaware economy.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.