Topeka The state's unemployment rate followed normal seasonal trends in July and continued to suggest that the economy has improved slightly since last year but has not yet approached the glory days of a few years ago.
The jobless rate for July was 5 percent, compared with 5.2 percent in June. A drop in unemployment is normal for July and has occurred every year for the past two decades because students who flood the job market in June either find work or stop looking.
The Lawrence area had an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in July, down from 4.6 percent in June and 5.3 percent in July 2002.
The state's unemployment rate was better than the 5.2 percent posted in July 2002, indicating that the Kansas economy is a little stronger despite a continuing sluggishness in manufacturing. But three years ago, in July 2000, the rate dipped to 3.6 percent.
"On average, we're better off than we were last year, ever so slightly," said Bill Layes, chief of labor market information for the state Department of Human Resources.
The department reported that 1,427,132 Kansans had jobs in July, about 4,300 more than were working in June. At the same time, 74,669 were actively seeking work, a decline of 2,700 over the month.
In July 2002, 1,366,929 Kansans had jobs and 74,692 were looking for work.
Manufacturing continued to be a sore spot in the Kansas economy, losing 1,300 jobs over the month to drop to 176,800.
That's most evident in the Wichita metropolitan area where the number of manufacturing jobs decreased by 5,700 over the year, to 59,100.
Still, the jobless rate there followed the state trend, dropping to 7.3 percent from 7.7 percent in June.
In the state's portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area, defined as Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties, unemployment declined to 5.5 percent from 5.8 percent in June.
In the Topeka area, or Shawnee County, joblessness dipped to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent in June.
Other area rates included: Franklin County, 4.2 percent in July, down from 4.5 in June and 5.6 in July '02; Jefferson, 3.6, no change from June and down from 3.9 in July '02; Leavenworth, 5.5, down from 6.1 in June and 6.7 a year ago, and Osage, 4.7, no change from June but down from 5.2 in July '02.