Archive for Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Job rate here still better than nation’s

Price of gasoline becoming big factor for commuters

Friends Lauren Courtney and Mark Miles use a computer at the Lawrence Workforce Center, 2540 Iowa, to look at job listings in the Lawrence area Tuesday. The  city's unemployment rate is 4 percent, about a half percent less than statewide average and about a full percent less than national average.

Friends Lauren Courtney and Mark Miles use a computer at the Lawrence Workforce Center, 2540 Iowa, to look at job listings in the Lawrence area Tuesday. The city's unemployment rate is 4 percent, about a half percent less than statewide average and about a full percent less than national average.

March 12, 2008

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Do you think the Lawrence area is a difficult place to find a job?

No. It seems like it’s a pretty easy place to find a job, but there aren’t a whole lot of well-paying ones.

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Suzi Dorei spent Tuesday afternoon at the Lawrence Workforce Center polishing her resume and navigating her way through online job postings.

As concerns grow about a worsening economy, Dorei said she's also had to lower her expectations about how to make ends meet.

"I've had to swallow my pride a bit," said Dorei, who is cleaning houses two hours a day after she lost her job as an administrative assistant when a Lawrence screen printing company moved its operations out of the area.

A new statewide unemployment report released Tuesday, however, shows Dorei should have a decent chance at landing a job. The Kansas unemployment rate of 4.3 percent is better than the national rate of 4.8 percent. Lawrence and Douglas County's rate is better yet at 4.1 percent. The state and local numbers are for January while the national rate is for February, the most recent months for which statistics are available.

Cheryl White, a supervisor at the Lawrence Workforce Center, said the data continue to show a steady job market for Lawrence. Past numbers back her up. The annual unemployment rate for Lawrence and Douglas County has hovered between 3.7 percent and 4.1 percent since 2002.

But White said that doesn't mean finding a job in the community is a snap. She said it often takes several months.

"It's going to take a little bit of time," White said. "I think a lot of times people think they're going to look and see what is out there, but then they don't stick with it quite long enough."

Commuting factor

Several job seekers at the Workforce Center - a service of the Kansas Department of Commerce that provides computer access, job coaching and other support services - said they think the job search may get more competitive as gasoline prices continue to rise and Lawrence commuters start looking for jobs closer to home.

Nancy Slabaugh, area manager for the Lawrence office of Manpower staffing services, said that already is an emerging trend.

"We've seen a definite increase in people who commute who are sending us resumes," Slabaugh said. "They are willing to take less pay to stay in this area."

Slabaugh also said several are willing to change career types, if it means eliminating the costly commutes to either Kansas City or Topeka.

"Every day we have people come in, very well-educated people, who say they're willing to do a variety of jobs to get their foot in the door so they can stay in the Lawrence area," Slabaugh said.

Concerns about the job market have been growing among economists as the national economy continues to show signs of entering a recession. But thus far, the concerns have not manifested themselves in the unemployment numbers.

The Douglas County unemployment rate of 4.3 percent is up slightly from the 4 percent mark of December. But the number is unchanged from the January 2007 mark. Economists often prefer to compare a month to the same month a year ago in order to eliminate fluctuations based on seasonal jobs.

Statewide, the 4.3 percent rate is up from 4.0 percent in December but down from 4.5 percent in January 2007. As the unemployment rate fell, the number of jobs rose. The state added 21,900 jobs - a growth rate of 1.6 percent - during the one-year period.

Statistics cut

Numbers for how many new jobs were in Douglas County were not available. A cutback in federal funding will mean less statistical data for Douglas County, according to a statement from the Kansas Department of Labor.

A monthly unemployment rate for Douglas County will continue to be generated, but a more detailed report showing how many jobs are located in Douglas County has been discontinued.

That report - which showed job totals for specific categories such as manufacturing, construction, and retail services - generally was considered the best way to measure Lawrence's progress in adding jobs. The unemployment report isn't a good method for that task because it only measures whether Douglas County residents have a job, regardless of whether the job is located in Douglas County or elsewhere.

Comments

KsTwister 7 years, 5 months ago

Clearly depends on what you would classify as a successful career position. The kind that used to provide good benefits,such as health,retirement and earned vacation/sick time. Lawrence need not be too quick to pat it's own back on that one. Part time should not be counted as successful employment either. These young people may as well as make a career out of being students for what Lawrence has to offer them. "Numbers for how many new jobs were in Douglas County were not available." Gee Whiz. Use last years figures it hasn't changed any.

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

According to the statistics linked to this article at "Kansas Department of Labor: January 2008 Labor Report", western Ks. has lower unemployment rates than eastern Ks. Why, then, are the coal supporters pushing the new plants as jobs programs?

geekin_topekan 7 years, 5 months ago

A cutback in federal funding will mean less statistical data for Douglas County, +++++ As long as Iraq has roads and electricity,I can live with that.

Kat Christian 7 years, 5 months ago

And statistically this is referring to the working class between 18-40ish. When you get into your 50s - jobs are no longer easy to obtain here in Lawrence, except of odd jobs, part-time jobs, cleaning, etc. Low paying jobs which couldn't support a nat. So this article, as usual is way off. I know you have to make it seem positive, but once be real. The job market is the pits here in Lawrence and folks I've known on the average takes a year to find a job to enough to at least to keep yourself fed.

Joel Hood 7 years, 5 months ago

I just found a good job in Lawrence afer commuting for almost 8 years. When I started commuting, gas was around $1.50 - $1.65 per gallon. The hidden cost of commuting includes lost time, car maintenance, higher insurance premiums, and higher risk of having an accident. It was tough finding a good job here, but I haven't been this happy in years.

geekyhost 7 years, 5 months ago

Unemployment rates only measure people who are seeking unemployment benefits. They don't measure students who don't need to work or people who just graduated and can't find a job. And they don't measure the quality of jobs that people do find.

My experience in Lawrence is that my job in KC pays me more than twice as much as I ever earned in Lawrence and gives me full benefits. In fact, I originally left a full time job here for a part time job in KC that ended up being a net increase in income. And all those jobs were within my field.

FatTony 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree that working close to home has great benefits and I encourage it. However even if my drive to work is much shorter working in Lawrence my chance of a accident or expensive car maintenance is much with the conditions of the streets in this town. Sorry jayhawkerjoel, but yes I get your point.

OfficeGirl 7 years, 5 months ago

Sure you can find a job in Lawrence if you are willing to work for low wages and no benefits. That's not a career.

sdinges 7 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence is a college town. It's true that a Bachelor's degree doesn't mean much here because everyone who graduates from KU has one. People who graduate from KU look in Lawrence first for jobs. It isn't exactly a center of business and industry either, so expecting to find a high paying job with benefits that hasn't been snapped up yet is somewhat unrealistic.

If you can get a good job in KC or Topeka, but you think that gas is too high for the commute... then move to KC or Topeka. Don't like those? Move out of state. It's not rocket science. Sitting around Lawrence waiting for your dream job to appear so you can get started on a career track is a waste of time. The good news is that Lawrence isn't the center of the universe - the world doesn't end at the city limits.

KS 7 years, 5 months ago

OfficeGirl - You gotta get off your you know what and go out and make something happen. There are good jobs in all communities. Some better than others. Just don't settle. Get a positive attitude, education and be happy in life. Not all people are destined for great jobs. Happiness can come in many different directions.

paavopetie 7 years, 5 months ago

"Numbers for how many new jobs were in Douglas County were not available." Gee Whiz. Use last years figures it hasn't changed any.

This is really, really, really, really, really, really funny simply because it is so true.

KS's reply to OfficeGirl is quite funny, too, but because it is so wrong. I've been praying for years for a job in my area of expertise to open up in Lawrence, but there aren't any. "Just don't settle" is good advice. One shouldn't settle for a crappy job in Lawrence.

I'll be moving to Kansas City in May. I'm subleasing my apartment and I've been telling interested people from out of state not to live in Lawrence because there are no jobs. Seriously, even with a college degree, you'll be hard pressed to find a job that pays over $12/hr and provides health insurance.

Veritas 7 years, 5 months ago

PG forgot which checkbook belonged to the company and which one was for personal use. That's what happened. Good luck, Suzi!

(former coworker)

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 5 months ago

paavopetie, it sounds like you are taking KS's advise.You're just not doing it in Lawrence. Lawrence is a nice (not great) town but its not the only nice town. Make something happen, move, don't settle

thecuteone 7 years, 5 months ago

After graduating I was turned down for several jobs because I wanted at least $10 an hour and benefits. I know for a fact, that one position was filled by a KU student who could work for less and didn't need the benefits. I ended up working in retail for a couple of months just the pay the bills. I finally got by current job, which barely pays the bills and I only got this one because I knew someone in the company. I definitely think that a degree doesn't mean much in Lawrence and it's more about who you know.

c_dubya 7 years, 5 months ago

I couldn't find a job in my field in Lawrence either so I just started my own company. After three years of hard work I have a nice salary, health benefits and an IRA. I wouldn't have had any of that if I waited around for someone else to take care of it for me. People need to stop hoping someone is going to drop their dream job into their laps and get out there and make it happen. This is America people!

blessed3x 7 years, 5 months ago

What amazes me is that the national rate is that low. Ask Europe if they would like an unemployment rate in the 4's. Shoot, 2 or 3% of the population is simply unemoployable so this number is awesome.

c_dubya 7 years, 5 months ago

I stand by my post. Also, 'thecuteone' needs to realize that grammar like that is not going to impress anyone, least of all potential employers or customers.

"I ended up working in retail for a couple of months just the pay the bills. I finally got by current job, which barely pays the bills and I only got this one because I knew someone in the company. I definitely think that a degree doesn't mean much..."

I know what you meant to say but what you said was 'I'm an idiot, please don't hire me.'

You are correct: a degree doesn't mean much, especially if you can't form a cogent sentence after four years of college.

Glen Moore 7 years, 5 months ago

There is plenty of work available for those who want to work. Both the young people pictured had work. I worked with them. Neither one of them wanted to show up and work. The male was fired for attendance. It's funny if they wanted to work why was it an attendance issue for either one of them? They had transportation, they had steady work, they worked for well above minimum wage. Whats the deal????? Unemployment????? Sounds like they just want it given to them. Should of stayed in school!!!!!!

Joel Hood 7 years, 5 months ago

FatTony - if you're out there. The roads in Lawrence are no worse than the streets of downtown KC.... and, accidents on I-70 at 75 mph are generally quite worse than fender benders in town. I know that accidents can happen to anyone at any time, but driving everyday to KC on I-70, going thru the downtown loop in rain, snow, and ice makes driving in little ole Larryville truly a picnic.

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