TOPEKA — Kansas officials on Friday reported several positive trends in the state’s economy from August, including a small dip in the unemployment rate to 6.2 percent.
The state Department of Labor said unemployment also decreased in all five of the state’s largest metropolitan areas, both over the month and over the year. The agency reported slightly more Kansans held nonfarm jobs in August than in August 2011, and the number of people filing unemployment claims also decreased.
“We’re seeing improvements,” said Tyler Tenbrink, a labor department economist. “There are job openings out there.”
The agency’s latest monthly report said the statewide, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 6.3 percent in July and was lower than the 6.7 percent recorded in August 2011. Almost 92,000 people were unemployed and actively seeking work in August, but the figure in August 2001 was 104,000.
About 1.34 million Kansans held nonfarm jobs in August, up 17,700 from August 2011, growth of 1.3 percent. The growth in employment by private companies was 1.5 percent, as businesses added 16,800 jobs over the year, with employment in professional and business services growing 6.3 percent.
The state also saw growth in employment in manufacturing and education and health services. Manufacturing companies added about 5,300 jobs over the year, a boost of 3.3 percent, while employment in education and health services grew 2.4 percent, or by 4,400 jobs.
Tenbrink described the overall growth in employment as “slow and steady” and said it’s been a trend since mid-2010. Department officials would like it to be more robust, however.
He also said the department continues to see a trend, evident since January, in which workers 55 and older are leaving the job market and probably opting for retirement, including several thousand in August. Ultimately, Tenbrink said, that could free up jobs for younger workers.