Kansas jobless rate falls to 3.6 percent while labor market remains flat

Kansas Department of Labor

? The Kansas unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.6 percent in October, the lowest rate recorded since 2000, although there was little measurable change in the state’s overall labor market.

The Kansas Department of Labor said preliminary estimates showed that the private-sector employment market had lost 1,700 jobs since September and 4,700 jobs since October 2016. Both of those represent changes of less than 0.5 percent.

At the same time, the size of the state’s labor force has continued to hover right around 1.4 million people for most of the past year.

Emilie Doerksen, a labor market economist for the department, said the retail trade sector did not add as many seasonal jobs in October as expected. That mirrors a national trend as more and more consumers do their holiday shopping online.

The brightest spot in Friday’s report was in the five-county Wichita metropolitan area, where the local jobless rate fell to 3.4 percent, the lowest level recorded there since April 2001. Employment there grew by 2,279 over the month while the number of people counted as unemployed fell by 1,673.

In the Lawrence metropolitan area, unemployment fell to 2.5 percent, down from 2.9 percent in September and 3.3 percent a year ago.

Topeka’s unemployment rate fell to 2.9 percent in October, down four-tenths of a point in September and down a full percentage point compared with October 2016.

On the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area, unemployment fell two-tenths of a point, to 3.1 percent. That’s down from 3.8 percent a year ago.

The Manhattan area continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the state, at 2.3 percent. That’s down from 2.7 percent in September and 3.2 percent a year ago.