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Area's jobless rate falls





Northwest Kansas unemployment rates fell a full half-percent in April, mirroring a drop across Kansas.

The difference, however, is northwest Kansas remains a full 2 percentage points less than the state's unemployment rate, according to data released by the Kansas Department of Labor.

Northwest Kansas's stature continues to be buoyed by counties leading the state in terms of low unemployment rates.

Sheridan County, for example, continues to boast the state's lowest unemployment rate at 2.2 percent. That's even down from the March rate of 2.5 percent.

But in April, Ellis County's rate fell by one-half of 1 percent to 2.7 percent, giving it the distinction of having the second lowest unemployment rate in the state.

Logan, Gove, Ness, Cheyenne, Rawlins and Trego counties were in the top 20, in terms of low unemployment rates in April.

The state's unemployment rate in April fell a half-percent to 5.3 percent, although the seasonally adjusted rate declined only slightly to 5.5 percent.

KDOL, however, processed only 13,187 initial claims for unemployment benefits in April, down nearly 2,000 from March and down nearly 15,000 from last year.

"In April, the number of initial unemployment claims fell to levels not seen since 2008," said Tyler Tenbrink, KDOL senior labor economist. "This shows the rate of job loss has returned to a healthy level, which is good news. However, job growth was not as strong as expected for the month of April."

Overall labor markets in April showed a pause in the seasonally adjusted job growth.

But, based on positive growth recorded in building permits issued and average weekly hours of production workers in manufacturing, KDOL suggests it might be a temporary trend.

"Private sector jobs increased by 11,000 and nonfarm jobs gained more than 10,000," KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon said. "Looking at our yearly report Kansas gained 12,100 nonfarm jobs and 12,300 private sector jobs since April of 2012."