Topeka — Unemployment in Kansas dipped to 4.5 percent in September, but a top official said Friday that the state still needed new jobs to bolster its economy.
The jobless rate for August, revised from preliminary figures released last month, was 4.6 percent. In September 2002, the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent. Nationally, last month's jobless rate was 6.1 percent.
The Department of Human Resources, which released the figures Friday, attributed the changes during the past month to normal seasonal trends. Typically, many high school and college students give up summer jobs and stop looking for work when their classes resume in the fall.
The number of Kansans holding jobs in September dropped by 7,290 from August, to just below 1.4 million. At the same time, the number of Kansans actually seeking work declined by 1,760, to 65,780.
While overall the numbers suggest an economy that has improved during the past year, with about 1,100 more nonfarm jobs overall, some industries still have less employment than they did in 2002.
Chief among them is manufacturing, which employed about 176,100 Kansans in September, compared to 181,800 in September 2002. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, aviation companies suffered.
"Although the drop in the unemployment rate is definitely good news, the numbers continue to reflect the need for real job growth," said Human Resources Secretary Jim Garner.
Bill Layes, the department's chief of labor market information, said he was seeing the economy growth through increased production. Companies are squeezing more out of employees before taking on more staff.
"We're going to see some callbacks in jobs and an increase in hiring, but it's anyone's guess how many jobs that will be," Layes said.
Wyandotte County had the highest unemployment rate last month, with 9.2 percent. The lowest unemployment rate in September belonged to Hamilton County, at 1 percent.