Archive for Saturday, November 20, 2004

State reports improving labor market

November 20, 2004


— More Kansans were working in October than at the same time last year, continuing a statewide trend in hiring despite a seasonal increase in the monthly unemployment rate, the state Department of Labor said Friday.

Secretary Jim Garner said nonfarm wage and salary jobs rose to 1.345 million in October, an increase of 25,600 from the same month a year ago. The jobless rate was 4.7 percent, up from September's revised 4.4 percent but lower than the 5.2 percent in October 2003.

First-time jobless claims also fell in October, to 10,410, or 25 percent fewer than in October 2003. Also, October was the eighth consecutive month in which nonfarm employment was higher than the year before.

Job growth appeared to be broad based, the department said.

"We continue to see increases in manufacturing and service positions, as well as the number of jobs in virtually all other sectors," Garner said.

Government hiring increased during the month by 7,800 jobs with the hiring of nonteaching staff at schools and universities. The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 1,200 jobs, followed by 800 new jobs in education-health care services and 700 at meatpacking and transportation equipment production.

Small decreases were reported during the month in seasonal jobs in construction and hospitality, increasing the unemployment rate.

Department spokeswoman Beth Martino said the report also reflected an increase in hiring for the holiday season. The state will have an indication of the strength of its economic recovery, she said, when it sees how many of those workers stay on past the first of the year.

"I think there is reason to be optimistic," she said.

Here's a look at area unemployment percentages for October and how they compare with levels in September:Douglas -- 4.5, up from 4.3Franklin -- 4.6, up from 4.1.Jefferson -- 4.2, up from 3.5.Johnson -- 4.1, up from 3.9.Leavenworth -- 6.4, up from 6.1.Osage -- 7.1, up from 6.6.Shawnee -- 6, up from 5.6.

The Wichita metropolitan area's unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, up from 5.3 percent, but markedly improved from the 6.8 percent rate of October 2003.

Nearly 12,000 more people were working than in October 2003, while the number of unemployed is down nearly 3,000. The department attributed part of the rebound to a recovering aviation industry, which shed several thousand jobs after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

In the Topeka area, the jobless rate increased to 6 percent from 5.6 percent in September, but employment increased by 800 during the month.

The Lawrence area's rate rose to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent in September, while joblessness in the Kansas portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area was up slightly to 5.2 percent from September's 4.9 percent.

The department also announced coming changes in the monthly jobless report, including the expansion of counties in three of the state's four metropolitan statistical areas. Martino said the changes would better reflect employment patterns.

Beginning in 2005, Jackson, Jefferson, Osage and Wabaunsee counties will join the Topeka area, which currently includes only Shawnee County.

Sumner County will become part of the Wichita metro area, along with Butler, Harvey and Sedgwick counties. Franklin and Linn counties will join Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties in the Kansas portion of the Kansas City metro area.

The Lawrence area will remain only Douglas County.

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