Archive for Saturday, December 18, 2004

Drop in unemployment rate signals growing economy

December 18, 2004


— The Kansas economy added 5,300 new jobs in November, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent, the state Department of Labor said Friday.

That's down slightly from a revised 4.7 percent in October and an improvement from a year ago when the November rate was 5.2 percent. During the past year, Kansas has added 25,200 new jobs, with government sectors leading the growth with 10,700.

Officials said November's job growth came from the hiring of 1,100 seasonal workers in the retail trade, transportation and utilities sectors. First-time unemployment claims fell by 1,400 in November to about 10,300 claims.

Labor Secretary Jim Garner said despite fluctuation in hiring patterns, the economy appeared to be growing steadily.

"More importantly, we continue to add jobs in a variety of areas, with a majority of industries showing gains both over the month and over the year," Garner said.

Unemployment rates in all of the state's four metropolitan statistical areas improved in November compared to October and November 2003.

The rate in Wichita, defined as Butler, Harvey and Sedgwick counties, was 5.4 percent in November, down from 5.6 percent in October and 6.7 percent a year ago. A rebound in hiring in manufacturing has helped the economy, though more layoffs in aviation were announced Dec. 9 by Bombardier Aerospace, which plans to cut about 50 jobs at its flight test center.

However, Cessna Aircraft Co. announced plans to expand its operations in Montgomery County, which could add as many as 500 workers at its single-engine aircraft plant in Independence in the next several years. Cessna employs about 600 in Independence.

Here's a look at area unemployment percentages for November and how they compare to levels in October:¢ Douglas -- 4.3, down from 4.5¢ Franklin --4.4, down from 4.7.¢ Jefferson --4.2, unchanged.¢ Johnson -- 4.0, down from 4.1.¢ Leavenworth -- 6.8, up from 6.4.¢ Osage -- 6.5, down from 7.2.¢ Shawnee -- 5.6, down from 6.1.

The Topeka-Shawnee County rate improved to 5.6 percent in November, down from 6.1 percent in October, but slightly higher than the 5.3 percent a year ago. The Lawrence-Douglas County rate was 4.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent in October and November 2003.

The Kansas portion of the Kansas City metro area, defined as Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties, was 5.1 percent, down from 5.2 percent in October and 5.8 percent in November 2003.

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