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Jobless rate climbs as agency adjusts data

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Northwest Kansas didn't fare so well when the U.S. Department of Labor adjusted unemployment statistics for 2012, the cause for delay in getting January's jobless rate.

The adjustment boosted the northwest Kansas unemployment rate closer to 4 percent rather than the slightly-more-than-3-percent rate it was in December.

County unemployment rates were released Monday by the Kansas Department of Labor. The change means a larger number of people -- 2,406 -- are actively looking for work.

Still, the numbers showed northwest Kansas continues to be well below the state unemployment rate.

Northwest Kansas has a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, while the rest of the state stayed at 5.5 percent.

With just 2.6 percent of its population out of work, Sheridan County continues to stake its claim to the lowest unemployment rate in northwest Kansas and the state as a whole.

But only three counties in Kansas -- Sheridan, Greeley and Rawlins counties -- had unemployment rates of less than 3 percent.

With the adjustments, it's now more of a rate in the 3-percent bracket, which includes Ness, Ellis, Gove, Sherman, Trego, Cheyenne, Graham, Logan, Norton and Smith counties. All told, only 24 counties had 3-percent unemployment rates.

Rooks and Rush counties, with the adjustments, were thrown back into the 5-percent bracket as far as unemployment, levels they had heralded escaping.

Kansas unemployment observers hailed the readjustment's failure to increase the state's jobless rate.

The Kansas seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 5.5 percent from December.

Kansas lost 19,400 private sector jobs and 27,700 nonfarm jobs between December and January as a result of seasonal factors.

Still, KDOL reports, Kansas added 16,900 nonfarm jobs and 19,300 private sector jobs since January 2012.

"After seasonal factors are accounted for, Kansas started the year with healthy job growth in the private sector," KDOL labor economist Tyler Tenbrink said in a statement. "This is on top of favorable annual revisions to the 2011 and 2012 employment estimates."

Eight of the 11 primary industries in Kansas reported job gains since January 2012. Professional and business services added 8,600 jobs, leisure and hospitality 3,000, and financial activities added 2,400 jobs.

"The Kansas labor market has continued to improve adding more than 19,000 private sector jobs this past year," KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon said. "This is a positive start for 2013 that we hope to see continue."