Topeka The Kansas unemployment rate jumped to 7.1 percent in January, up from 6.2 percent in December, officials reported Wednesday.
Gov. Mark Parkinson called the jobless figures “discouraging,” and said they show that state officials need to increase state revenue to shore up the budget for fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1.
“As the Legislature continues its work on the budget for 2011, we must do all we can to prevent the additional layoffs of school teachers, civil servants and parole officers. Stabilizing the state budget is an important part of getting our economy back on track,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson, a Democrat, has proposed a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax, and a 55-cent per pack increase on the cigarette tax to help bridge a nearly $500 million revenue shortfall. Senate Republican leaders have called for a $300 million tax package, but House Republican leaders oppose a tax increase.
“We need the Legislature to put politics aside and find the revenue we need to protect our schools, maintain our public safety and preserve critical services for our most vulnerable citizens,” Parkinson said.
State labor officials said the increased unemployment rate was expected. The December to January increase can be attributed to seasonal factors, the Kansas Department of Labor reported.
“Although we continue to see job losses in Kansas, the drop in initial unemployment claim numbers from December to January indicates the rate at which people are losing jobs is slowing,” said Tyler Tenbrink, an analyst with the Labor Department.
“Further review of the unemployment data for the past five months suggests a stabilizing trend in the Kansas job market. We’re seeing the rate of job loss moderating, but we have not seen job creation. We’ll be watching this activity closely over the next couple of months to see if this trend continues,” Tenbrink said.
The unemployment rate in Douglas County was 5.8 percent in January up from 4.7 percent in December.
The 7.1 percent statewide rate is the highest it has been in Kansas since August when it was 7.2 percent. The national jobless rate is 9.7 percent.
The new Labor Department report showed:
• There were 313,032 continued claims for unemployment benefits in January, down from 315,653 claims in December.
• There were 33,075 initial claims for unemployment benefits in January, down from 36,216 initial claims in December.
• Most major industries reported statewide over-the-year losses. These losses were highest in the following areas: manufacturing, professional and business services, and trade, transportation and utilities.
• The job losses from December 2009 to January 2010 are below the 10-year average of job losses in this time period.
• Kansas businesses lost 54,100 jobs over-the-year, a 4.0 percent decrease.