Topeka Kansas labor officials said Friday that the state's job market was showing more positive signs of growth, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 6.1 percent in June.
The rate was the same seasonally adjusted figure as in April and May, but better than the 6.8 percent rate of June 2011.
Over the past year, Kansas has added 19,400 private-sector jobs, a 1.8 percent rate of growth. The state has added 7,300 jobs since May. Leading that growth since June 2011 were professional and business services, with 10,000 new hires, and manufacturing, with 5,800 new jobs.
"Keeping our focus on long-term gains helps us to see that we are growing jobs in Kansas," said Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee.
An economist described the growth as slow but noted that there are encouraging signs that economic activity is picking up in Kansas.
"The number of online advertised job openings increases notably and the number of weekly hours worked by production workers increases 0.6 hours from the previous month," said Tyler Tenbrink, an economist with the Kansas Department of Labor. "These are both signs that indicate the demand for workers is likely to improve in the state."
Seven major industry sectors saw gains in June. Trade, transportation and utilities added 1,900 jobs, leading the growth by 0.8 percent from May. Conversely, government lost 11,200 jobs because of typical seasonal changes due to the end of school and start of the summer season.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 942 claims in June to 12,542, 87 fewer than filed in June 2011. Continued claims were up 621 in June to 100,829 compared to May, but down nearly 7,000 compared to June 2011.
Gov. Sam Brownback returned recently from a trade mission in Europe, attending the Farnborough International Airshow in England and meeting with business leaders in Germany. The Republican said that manufacturing jobs are returning to the state, especially in commercial aviation.
Brownback said that agriculture is also showing promise despite the effects of the intense drought, noting that pork and dairy producers are expanding operations in Kansas.