The Douglas County unemployment rate shot up to 4.3 percent in May, its highest level in more than two years, as an influx of new workers hit the local labor market.
The local jobless rate was up from 3.6 percent in April and from 3.2 percent in May of 1992. Kathy Ketchum, Kansas Department of Human Resources spokeswoman, said the most recent jobless rate was the highest since January 1991, when it reached 4.4 percent.
For the state, the rate was 5 percent, up from 4.9 percent in April and from 4.2 percent in May 1992.
Unemployment numbers typically register an increase in May as new graduates hit the job market, and this year was no exception. From April to May, the size of the civilian labor force in Douglas County grew by 332 workers, to 48,747. At the same time, the number of people looking for work shot up by 330, to 2,089. The number of people who held jobs was virtually unchanged.
However, when examined against May 1992 numbers, the local employment picture looks gloomier. In addition to a higher unemployment rate, the year-to-year comparison counted substantially higher unemployment -- an increase of 533 people without jobs, and lower employment -- a drop of 475 with jobs. Over the same period, the size of the Douglas County work force increased by just 58.
Ketchum noted that the unemployment rate is drawn from data on where people reside rather than where they work and said the Douglas County numbers probably include spillover from manufacturing layoffs in Topeka and the Kansas City area.
``We could attribute a little bit of this to some commuter variations,'' she said.
Shifts in employment by category, which are based on place-of-work data and count jobs in Douglas County, put the local labor market 200 jobs ahead in the year-to-year comparisons. The KDHR reported job gains of 400 in government employment, which includes public education employers, 200 in wholesale trade, and 100 each in services and manufacturing.
For drops in employment by job category, the KDHR found 300 fewer jobs in both construction and retail trade.