By MIKE CORN
The race is on, and Logan County moved up in the unemployment rankings for February.
Local unemployment rates for February recently were released by the Kansas Department of Labor, less than two weeks after it released the January numbers.
Greeley County remained the leader with a low 2.4-percent unemployment rate.
But Logan County jumped in the recent rankings, matching consistently low Sheridan County.
Both Logan and Sheridan counties had unemployment rates of 2.6 percent.
Across northwest Kansas, the unemployment rate in January stood at 3.38 percent. That's up slightly from January.
Ellis County had a 2.8-percent unemployment rate.
The state unemployment rate in February stood at 4.9 percent, also up from a month earlier. Kansas was one of 10 states to see unemployment rates climb.
Still, that's down from a year ago.
"Another month of progress in the number of individuals employed coupled with a substantial decrease in unemployment claims is an encouraging sign of growth in the labor market," said KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon. "The state's unemployment rate remains below 5 percent for the third straight month, the first time Kansas has seen this in over five years."
Kansas has gained 12,200 seasonally adjusted private-sector jobs in the past year and 11,000 nonfarm jobs.
But in the past month, KDOL reported, Kansas has lost 2,300 private-sector jobs and 1,200 nonfarm jobs.
"The number of individuals employed has increased for five consecutive months, and likely cast a positive outlook on the labor market in terms of employment opportunities," KDOL labor economist Efua Afful said in a statement. "The result is expansion of the labor force for the last three months as individuals are convinced that opportunities exist for them."
The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Kansas now stands at 5.5 percent, also up from January. A year ago, that rate stood at 5.9 percent.
The not seasonally adjusted figures show Kansas gained 10,600 private-sector and 10,700 nonfarm jobs since February 2013.
But, in the past month, the state also lost 2,800 private-sector jobs and gained 6,000 nonfarm jobs.
There were 11,121 initial claims for unemployment benefits in February, a decrease from 15,709 a month earlier.