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Wichita's recession job losses drag down Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Blame Wichita for Kansas' failure to regain all the jobs the state lost in the recession.

The Wichita Eagle (http://is.gd/FTVenD ) reports that the Wichita metro area remains down 16,000 jobs from 2008, with the aircraft manufacturing industry's struggles getting much of the blame. Employment in aircraft construction remains about 11,000 jobs below what it was in May 2008, according the Kansas Department of Labor's non-farm jobs survey.

Because of that, when the Wichita area is counted, Kansas is down 9,000 jobs from May 2008. Without Wichita, the state is up about 7,000 jobs.

And that means Kansas isn't recovering from the recession as quickly as the rest of the nation. While the U.S. has seen a 5 percent job gain since 2008, Kansas has seen a 0.6 percent decline.

"It's just been rough," said Barbara Hyle, who was laid off last year from Cessna Aircraft, where she was a marketing coordinator.

The bright spot for job growth in Kansas is in rural areas and small town, driven in part by more oil drilling. Among the 46 counties with fewer than 10,000 in population, three-fifths have seen job growth.

But for most of the state's biggest cities and the counties in which they're located, there were fewer jobs or about the same number as in 2008.

Johnson County is up about 2,700 jobs, or 1 percent over 2008 levels. Topeka is up 500 jobs and Leavenworth is up 400 jobs. But other populous counties -- Riley, Douglas, Reno and Saline -- all saw modest declines. Wyandotte County data show that it had exactly the same number of jobs in May 2008 as in May 2013.

"Manufacturing is still soft, and Johnson County isn't growing," said Donna Ginther, director of the Center for Economic and Business Analysis at the University of Kansas. "And so what we have is a very slow recovery with some bright spots in small counties. It's uneven growth, uneven distribution."