The Lawrence area, as well as Kansas in general, saw unemployment rates fall again in December, according to recently released figures from the Kansas Department of Labor.
Here’s a look at the data:
• The Lawrence unemployment rate fell to 5 percent, down from 5.3 percent in November and 5.6 percent a year ago.
• About 240 fewer people in Lawrence were unemployed in December compared with last year.
• Lawrence unemployment numbers have fluctuated but had trended downward since July 2010, when the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent.
• In December 2006, however, the unemployment rate was 3.4 percent.
• The Kansas unemployment rate dropped from 6.8 percent in December 2010 to 6.3 percent this past December.
The ticks down in the unemployment rate are reflected on the ground, said Scott Anglemeyer, executive director of the Workforce Partnership, the Kansas Works agency for Leavenworth, Johnson and Wyandotte counties, which have all seen similar improvements in the employment outlook.
It’s certainly a welcome, if gradual, trend.
“We’re not going to see a radical change overnight,” he said.
Anglemeyer said his agency hadn’t seen a big jump in hiring in one particular industry recently, though the long-term trend of opportunities in the health care sector continues.
And possibly skewing the numbers are people who have had to accept lower-paying jobs that they’re over-qualified for, Anglemeyer said.
“You do see a lot of settling,” he said.
The best advice Anglemeyer can give people who are back in the employment hunt is to prepare for new roles and “take on new skills you never thought you’d ever need.”
General trends in the state, according to the Department of Labor, include increased construction activity, thanks to warm weather. In addition, there was an increase in federal government hiring, which offset declines in the retail sector during the holiday season.
As a whole, Kansas added 12,400 nonfarm jobs in the 12 months ending in December, including 12,000 in the private sector.