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Archive for Sunday, June 18, 2006

State unemployment rate drops

June 18, 2006

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— The state's economy continued to hum along in May a little stronger than it was last year, according to a report from the Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.1 percent, down from 4.2 percent, according to the report released Friday. Also, the state saw the number of people holding nonfarm jobs increase by about 5,000, or four-tenths of 1 percent.

The jobless rate was significantly lower than it was in May 2005, when it was 4.9 percent, the department said. Over the previous 12 months, the state added about 1,200 nonfarm jobs, for growth of about one-tenth of 1 percent.

Department spokeswoman Beth Martino said the data continued to suggest that the state's economy is a little more vibrant than it was last year. She said it's typical for unemployment to drop in May as parks, construction companies and recreational businesses add workers.

"It's pretty common because you have a lot of summertime employment," she said.

In 24 of the last 26 months, Kansans have held more nonfarm jobs than during the same month the previous year.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has repeatedly touted such data as signs that her efforts to improve the economy have paid off, but her critics contend the growth should be more robust.

In Lawrence

In the Lawrence area, unemployment dropped. The May rate was 3.2 percent, down from 3.4 percent in April and 3.8 percent in May 2005.

Nonfarm employment was 1.35 million in May, with total employment listed at 1.47 million, a figure that includes people who work part time or have home businesses.

Of the state's four major metropolitan areas, the Kansas City area bucked the statewide trend, at least over the month.

The jobless rate there was 4.7 percent in May, up from 4.4 percent in April, though the May 2005 rate was 5.5 percent. The area is defined as Franklin, Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte counties.

Unemployment dropped over the month in the other three metro areas, Wichita, Topeka and Lawrence, the department said.

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