Kansas reports job growth in February

? The Kansas economy gained 5,500 private-sector jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point to 4.0 percent, the Kansas Department of Labor reported.

But there was also a decline in public-sector jobs over the month, mainly at the local government level, which lowered the total nonfarm job growth for the month to 4,200 jobs.

Those numbers, which are seasonally adjusted, represent one of the strongest single-month jobs reports the state has seen in several months, and it came on the heels of a January report that showed the state had lost 2,300 private-sector jobs over the previous year.

Labor Department officials, however, said there was little change in the Kansas jobs market compared to February 2016.

“The health care and construction industries each added more jobs than expected. However, when compared to this time last year, total nonfarm employment changed little,” said Tyler Tenbrink, senior labor economist for the department, in a statement accompanying the report. “Other indicators of the labor market such as the unemployment rate, labor force, and average weekly hours worked also show little change from one year ago.”

Over the year, the state lost 400 total nonfarm jobs but gained 1,300 private-sector jobs, the department said.

Douglas County posted a 3.4 percent jobless rate in February, slightly above the Manhattan area’s 3.1 percent, which was the lowest unemployment rate in the state for the month.

The five-county Wichita metropolitan area continued to have the highest unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent.

The Topeka-area jobless rate was 4.2 percent, and the five counties that make up the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area posted a 3.8 percent jobless rate.