Despite the recession and a 6.2 percent unemployment rate, Kansas is looking outside as well as inside the state to fill thousands of job openings.
Next week representatives from the Kansas Department of Commerce will attend a job fair in Omaha, Neb. It’s not uncommon for them to go to other states to recruit, commerce department spokesman Joe Monaco said.
There are at least 22,000 positions available in Kansas, including 12,000 posted online in the last 15 days, Monaco said.
“There are quite a few jobs still to be filled throughout the state,” he said.
Kansas’ unemployment rate is still low in much of western Kansas and that is where companies have asked for state help in recruiting for a mixture of non-farming jobs, Monaco said. Some western counties have unemployment rates as low as 2, 3 and 4 percent, he said.
Kansas also is planning for 400 hi-tech jobs expected to be needed for the federal bio-defense facility to be built in Manhattan and 300 for a state casino in Dodge City. Another 1,000 construction workers will be needed for each project, Monaco said.
“It’s not so much that we need those folks right this minute but we’re laying the groundwork and promoting Kansas in the event we do need to fill those spots once the economy turns around in a couple of years,” he said.
Kansas goes to other states to recruit based on demographic data that show where former Kansans live.
“The hope is the people who grew up here and have ties are more likely to be interested in moving back,” Monaco said.
“The big picture, the way we see it, is that this is good news,” Monaco said.
Job fairs are still held throughout Kansas.