Archive for Saturday, December 20, 2003

Seasonal hirings help stabilize job market

State’s jobless rate remains steady at 4.7 percent

December 20, 2003


— Unemployment held steady in November, state officials said Friday.

According to preliminary figures from the Kansas Department of Human Resources, unemployment was unchanged in November from October's revised 4.7 percent; the national rate was 5.9 percent. That compares with the 5.2 percent unemployment rate for November 2002.

Human Resources Secretary Jim Garner said seasonal hirings for the retail sector were a factor in keeping the jobless rate steady, though overall employment continued to improve across Kansas from a year ago.

"I am hopeful that we are seeing the unemployment rate beginning to stabilize in Kansas," Garner said. "Nevertheless, there are some areas of the state with far too high unemployment and in real need of job growth."

First-time jobless claims stood at 11,731 in November, down 1,500 from October and 5,000 from November 2002.

David McGee, a labor market analyst for the state, said he hoped unemployment would decline, as it had in 2003, compared to 2002.

"I wonder if folks haven't cut about as much as they can," McGee said. "At some point, the increase in productivity will not offset the need for additional employment."

The Kansas rate, he said, frequently reflected predictable seasonal changes, such as construction and retail hirings. However, he said recent news out of the aviation industry, including 7E7 Dreamliner work at Boeing, was encouraging.

Here are unemployment figures for area counties for November. The first percentage is the November unemployment rate, followed by the October unemployment rate.¢ Douglas -- 4.1, 4.0.¢ Franklin -- 3.8, 3.9.¢ Jefferson -- 3.8, 3.8.¢ Johnson -- 4.2, 4.2.¢ Leavenworth -- 6.5, 5.9.¢ Osage -- 5.8, 5.6.¢ Shawnee --4.7, 4.9.

For the month, the Wichita metropolitan area's jobless rate slipped to 6.1 percent, down from October's revised 6.2 percent. The Topeka area's rate dropped to 4.7 percent from 4.9 percent in October, while the Lawrence area and the Kansas portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area both remained unchanged for the month, at 4.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

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