The state’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.9% in September, dropping a full point from the 6.9% mark the month prior, according to data released Friday by the Kansas Department of Labor and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the state has also shed 7,200 nonfarm jobs since August and while most of that decline is attributable to a loss of government jobs. Nine hundred private-sector positions were also slashed.
And the number of Kansans participating in the labor force also dropped, meaning that the dropping unemployment could be more of a sign that fewer Kansans are looking for work.
The state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic gained steam over the summer but has begun to slow, KDOL said.
"It is important to note that similar to national trends, the number of individuals participating in the labor force has also declined." Acting Labor Secretary Ryan Wright said in a statement.
Missouri’s unemployment rate fell even further, to 4.9%, meaning Kansas has the highest unemployment in the region, with the state also trailing Nebraska and Oklahoma.
In the Topeka metropolitan area, unemployment fell to 5.3% and in Lawrence it dropped to 5.5%, despite little change in the labor force. In Dodge City, the rate is now 3.5%.
After seeing a fairly steady decline, the number of Kansans filing for unemployment benefits is also rising again with over 19,000 new claims last week. That marks a 3% increase over the week prior.
That comes as the department says it is "on track" to clear a backlog of 25,000 claims in the coming weeks.
"We are doing everything in our power to make sure folks get paid," Wright said in an interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal last week.