Topeka The state continued to see positive economic signs in September as its unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent, the Department of Labor said Friday.
The department said the number of people holding nonfarm jobs was almost 24,000 higher than it was in September 2003. It was the seventh consecutive month in which nonfarm employment was higher than the year before. August's unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Unemployment in September 2003 was 5.1 percent.
The department also said fewer people filed their first jobless claims in September than in September 2003 -- about 8,300, compared to about 11,000.
The numbers indicate modest economic improvements, said Beth Martino, a department spokeswoman.
"We're kind of just waiting to make sure that it's a sustained trend and that we continue to see growth in some areas, like manufacturing," she said.
The department said manufacturing employment across the state grew by about 700 jobs from August to September. The total number, about 172,700, also was about 1,600 higher than it was in September 2003.
The entire civilian labor force, just short of 1.4 million, shrank by about 5,800 people during the month, the department said. However, so did the number of people actively seeking work, by about 3,200, to about 64,700.
Unemployment in the state's four major metropolitan areas followed the state trend.
It dropped to 4.9 percent in September from 5 percent in August on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area; to 5.3 percent from 5.5 percent in the Wichita area; to 5.5 percent from 5.6 percent in the Topeka area; and to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent in the Lawrence area.
|Here's a look at area unemployment percentages for September and how they compare to levels in August:¢ Douglas -- 4.2, down from 4.6.¢ Franklin -- 4.1, down from 4.6.¢ Jefferson -- 3.6, down from 3.8.¢ Johnson -- 3.8, down from 4.0.¢ Leavenworth -- 6.2, up from 5.9.¢ Osage -- 6.5, down from 6.9.¢ Shawnee -- 5.5, down from 5.6.|