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Archive for Saturday, July 19, 2008

State jobless rate steady at 4.4 %

July 19, 2008

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— Kansas' unemployment rate held steady at 4.4 percent in June despite fewer workers on the job compared with last year, state officials said Friday.

The Department of Labor's latest report said there were 4,400 fewer workers in June compared with the same month in 2007. However, six of the state's 11 industry sectors added jobs over that period.

Government shed the most jobs, as schools and universities started the summer break.

According to an analyst, summer employment declines are typical, but the 2008 drop was larger than usual.

"Although we have seen some slowdown in employment growth in recent months, June's job numbers reflect a possible anomaly when compared with data from last year," said labor economist Inayat Noormohmad.

Two sectors adding jobs over the year are professional and businesses services, with 4,800 jobs, and durable goods manufacturing, with 1,300.

Kansas' unemployment rate was below the nation's June rate of 5.7 percent. County rates ranged from a high of 7.6 percent in Wyandotte in the Kansas City area to 2.5 percent in Gove in northwest Kansas.

Friday's jobless report came on the heals of action by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and legislative leaders to curb state spending over the next year. State revenue collections are below what economic forecasters predicted in April by some $61 million.

In June, Sebelius told all state agencies to trim their budgets by up to 2 percent for the fiscal year that began July 1. Legislative leaders followed suit last week, cutting about $600,000 for legislative activities, such as travel, printing and hiring.

The cuts are aimed at keeping the state's reserve accounts above $100 million for 2009 without prompting deeper cuts or forcing fee and tax increases.

Lower revenue collections have been attributed to rising energy prices, which have slowed business activity and limited consumers' disposable income, reflected by lower income and sales tax collections through June.

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