Kansas employment remained flat in January

Kansas Department of Labor

? Job growth in Kansas was flat in January as the state’s economy added only 200 net new jobs, even though employers are still looking to fill thousands of positions, the state Department of Labor reported Monday.

“Kansas starts the year at a low 3.5 percent unemployment rate,” Kansas Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said in a news release. “The state’s employers are looking to hire the 51,000 job seekers.”

That unemployment rate was unchanged from December.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only six states and the District of Columbia saw jobless rates decline in January; unemployment rates held steady in 44 states.

Over the year, the Kansas economy added 9,100 nonfarm jobs, or 0.6 percent, the department said. Private-sector jobs, a subset of total nonfarm jobs, grew by 7,500 compared with January 2017, or 0.7 percent.

For the month, manufacturing and professional services sectors saw the biggest job gains, adding about 600 new workers each. The education and health services industry added about 500 jobs.

Those gains were offset, however, by losses in other sectors, including the wholesale trade industry, which shed about 1,500 jobs, and employment in retail trade dropped by about 500.

Unemployment rates grew in January in each of the state’s six metropolitan areas.

Employment in Lawrence and Douglas County fell by nearly 2,000 jobs in January as the local jobless rate rose four-tenths of a point to 3 percent. The size of the local labor force also declined in January, but there were 231 more people counted as unemployed than there were in January.

The Topeka area’s jobless rate grew six-tenths of a point, to 3.7 percent while Wichita’s jobless rate grew by three-tenths of a point to 3.9 percent.

In the six counties on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area, unemployment grew to 3.6 percent, up six-tenths of a point from December.

The Manhattan metropolitan area, at 2.9 percent, continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in Kansas. That was up four-tenths of a point from December.

In February, the U.S. economy added 313,000 new payroll jobs, the biggest single monthly increase since July 2016.

Kansas will report state February employment numbers March 23.