Topeka Government remains the biggest job-producing part of the state economy in the past year, a trend still generating worries despite Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' optimism about the future.
A report from the state Department of Labor showed that government agencies, including local ones, had 6,000 more employees in November than they did in November 2005. That meant government payrolls grew by 2.3 percent, to more than 266,000.
Absent that growth, the state would have seen total nonfarm employment slip last month compared with November 2005. That has led business and anti-tax groups and some legislators, particularly conservative Republicans, to suggest the economy is softer than it's portrayed.
"We've been sluggish for so long, it really started adding up over time," Alan Cobb, director of the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said Tuesday. "It should be a major concern, and frankly we don't hear much about it."
The department's latest jobs report also said unemployment remained constant at 4.2 percent in November, compared with October. And the rate was significantly better than the 5 percent seen in November 2005.
Labor Secretary Jim Garner said there continues to be job growth across the economy, including slight growth in manufacturing, and across the state.
"Low unemployment and continued job growth reflect the overall improvement in the Kansas economy," he said.
The Department of Labor's latest report, issued last week, estimated that more than 1.42 million Kansans had jobs in November and fewer than 62,000 were unemployed. Those figures were slightly better than October's and somewhat better than figures for November 2005.
When it comes to nonfarm jobs - figures that exclude people who work only a few hours a week or have part-time home businesses - Kansas also has seen overall job growth of about 3,600, or 0.3 percent, when November is compared with November 2005.
Sebelius said in a recent interview that Kansas starts 2007 "in better economic shape than we've been in, in years."
Cobb disagreed, noting federal figures that showed Kansas next-to-last among states in private sector job growth from November 2005 to November 2006. If Kansas' private-sector job growth had mirrored the national average, he said, the state would have 16,000 additional jobs.