Kansas unemployment rate goes up for 4th consecutive month

Kansas Department of Labor

? The Kansas unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent in September as the state lost an estimated 2,100 private-sector jobs over the month, the Kansas Department of Labor said Friday.

Over the year, the state has lost 6,300 private-sector jobs while government jobs grew both over the month and over the year.

The loss of private-sector jobs was partially offset by an increase in government jobs as teachers and other school employees went back to work.

Overall, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor said there were 3,304 fewer people counted as employed compared with the previous month and more than 23,000 fewer than a year ago.

It was the fourth consecutive month of rising unemployment for the state since the low point of 3.7 percent set in May.

The biggest source of job losses over the month came in business and professional services, the department said.

The statewide numbers represent seasonally adjusted figures, which are meant to smooth out the predictable ups and downs of individual employment sectors throughout the year. On a nonseasonally adjusted basis — using just a headcount of jobs and employees — the jobless rate actually fell six-tenths of a point, to 4.0 percent.

On that basis, Kansas added 17,700 jobs over the month. The seasonally adjusted figure indicates that the job growth was not as big as would normally be expected in September when schools and universities reopen for the new term.

In fact, all of the nonadjusted growth in September was attributed to growth in state and local government employment, which includes K-12 and higher education, where employers added 24,600 jobs. Nonadjusted private sector employment fell by an estimated 7,000 jobs.

Jobless rates actually fell in each of the state’s major metropolitan areas, which are measured without seasonal adjustments.

The Lawrence-area economy added more than 3,000 jobs over the month as students returned to campus, lowering the local unemployment rate to 3.4 percent.

In Topeka, the jobless rate fell half a point, to 3.9 percent, as both employment and unemployment decreased.

The Wichita area continued to have the highest unemployment rate among the state’s urbanized metropolitan areas. But it was down more than half a point, to 4.6 percent, since August.

On the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area, the jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent as both the number of people counted as employed and unemployed fell over the month.

The Manhattan area posted the lowest metropolitan area jobless rate, at 3.1 percent.

But many of the state’s more rural counties continued to suffer from unusually high jobless numbers, led by Neosho County in southeast Kansas, which posted a 7 percent unemployment rate.

Also Linn County, which is considered the southern fringe of the Kansas City metro area, posted a 6.5 percent jobless rate, and in Atchison County just north of Kansas City, it was 6.3 percent.