Topeka The Kansas labor market added more jobs than expected in March, lowering the state's unemployment rate to 3.8 percent, the Kansas Department of Labor reported Friday.
That was down from 4 percent in February and down from 4.1 percent in March 2016.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, Kansas gained 1,400 nonfarm jobs during the month, but only about 500 of those were in the private sector. The biggest private-sector job gains were in the retail industry, while the manufacturing sector lost about 600 jobs.
The department also revised its estimates of February's total employment upward by 1,400 jobs, including 1,100 private-sector jobs.
"This month's labor report shows good news for Kansas with improvement in many key indicators, including a drop in the unemployment rate to under 4 percent," Kansas Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said in a news release that accompanied the report.
Labor Department economists also said there were slight increases in the average weekly hours worked and average hourly earnings compared with a year ago.
They also said the size of the Kansas labor force grew by just under 3,000 workers in March, while the number of people counted as unemployed fell by about the same amount.
Compared with a year ago, there were 2,057 more new claims for unemployment in March, but there were 12,338 fewer continuing claims. The average duration of benefits fell by 1.4 weeks over the year.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, Kansas was one of 17 states that saw a statistically significant drop in its unemployment rate over the month. But changes over the year in employment and unemployment were not considered statistically significant.
The Lawrence area unemployment rate stood at 3 percent in March, down from 3.3 percent in February and 3.4 percent a year ago.
In the Topeka area, the jobless rate fell to 3.6 percent, down from 4.1 percent in February and 4.3 percent a year ago.
The Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area saw only a slight dip in its unemployment rate to 3.7 percent. That was down one-tenth of a point over the month and two-tenths of a point over the year.
The Wichita area showed the biggest drop in unemployment, to 4.1 percent, down six-tenths of a point from February and from a year ago. That rate was still the highest among all the state's urban metropolitan areas.
The Manhattan area had the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.8 percent, down from 3.1 percent in February and 3.2 percent in March 2016.