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Unemployment continues to climb





Northwest Kansas unemployment rates continued to climb higher in July, outpacing even the modest increase recorded in June.

The July unemployment rate for northwest Kansas stood at nearly 4.1 percent, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. That's an increase from 3.7 percent in June.

Statewide, unemployment rates were higher -- for both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate statewide was 6.3 percent, up from 6.1 percent in June. The non-adjusted unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, up from 6.2 percent one month ago.

Across northwest Kansas, every county saw gains in unemployment.

That even includes Sheridan County, barely remaining below 3 percent unemployment.

It increased one-tenth of 1 percent from June to July.

Both Rooks and Rush counties have the highest unemployment rates in northwest Kansas, with Rush County jumping to 5.9 percent. Rooks County stands at 5.3 percent.

Ellis County was up slightly to 3.9 percent.

Despite the increasing unemployment rate, the Labor Department suggests good news abounds, what with private sector employment and nonfarm jobs both showing increases from a year ago.

In some cases, the agency said, there were significant increases.

Kansas has gained 22,100 private-sector jobs since July 2011, KDOL reported, a 2-percent increase. Nonfarm employment grew by 19,100 jobs since a year ago, a 1.4-percent gain.

Since June, the private sector has added 2,600 jobs. Nonfarm employment decreased by 16,900 jobs in the past month, mostly caused by a decline in seasonal jobs at educational institutions.

"Private-sector job growth is the encouraging note in this report," Secretary of Labor Karin Brownlee said in a statement.

"Contraction of the labor force and its impact on the unemployment rate is worthy of our attention," Brownlee said.

"In July, the size of the labor force contracted by more than 6,100 people," said KDOL economist Tyler Tenbrink. "Nearly all of these people came from the ranks of the employed to no longer being part of the labor force. This is a trend that surfaced early in 2012 and has persisted. The major age group contributing to this trend is the group of workers age 55 and over."

Many of those workers leaving the labor force reported "they do not want a job now."

That decline in the civilian labor force affected the unemployment rate, the agency reported.

On the flip side, seven of the 11 major industries reported job gains since July 2011. Health care and social assistance gained 5,300 jobs, while heavy and civil engineering construction increased by 2,500 jobs.

Six of the 11 major industries saw gains from one month ago. Professional and business services grew by 2,200 jobs. Construction added 1,900 jobs.