Unemployment lower in August
By MIKE CORN
Unemployment rates in northwest Kansas edged slightly lower in August. But not much.
The August unemployment rate for the 20-county northwest Kansas region stands at 3.99 percent, down from the 4.1 percent reported by the Kansas Department of Labor for July. Still, that's up from the 3.7 percent unemployment rate reported in June.
Statewide, August unemployment stood at 6.2 percent, according to the KDOL. That's down from 6.7 percent in July, as well as down from 6.9 percent a year ago.
KDOL touted a drop in initial and continuing insurance claims, compared to last month and a year ago. The agency also said Kansas gained 17,700 nonfarm jobs since August 2011, but that's only a 1.3-percent increase.
Many northwest Kansas counties saw unemployment rates fall, but a number of counties saw rates climb slightly.
Ness, Norton, Osborne, Rooks and Sherman all saw increases.
Rooks and Rush counties continue to lead northwest Kansas in terms of highest unemployment rates, both of which are in excess of 5 percent. Rooks, at 5.5 percent, had the highest rate.
At the other end of the spectrum, Sheridan County continues to sport the lowest rate, at 2.9 percent. Gove County was only slightly higher at 3 percent.
Ellis County had a 3.7 percent unemployment rate, down from July.
The most significant trend seems to be an exodus from the workforce pool -- people actively looking for a job.
That appears to be true in northwest Kansas as well, where the August labor force had fewer people than in July.
The size of the civilian labor force in northwest Kansas in August fell by more than 1,900, while the number of people working fell by 1,800 people.
There were 2,469 people in northwest Kansas in August who said they had been unable to find a job, 117 fewer than in July.
"In August, the Kansas labor force declined by just above 5,000 people, most of whom were over age 55 and employed," KDOL labor economist Tyler Tenbrink said in a statement.
"This is a continuing trend that has caused the labor force participation rate to decline 1.5 percent since January. If this trend continues, the job openings resulting from these workers leaving the labor force will help alleviate some of the surplus of unemployed workers."
Across Kansas, seven of the 11 major industries reported job gains since August 2011, with professional and business services increasing by 9,500 jobs.
Four industries saw gains from a month earlier.
Government reported an additional 5,000 jobs, with seasonal gains from state university and local school district employees returning to work.
Manufacturing gained 1,200 jobs since July.