Kansas economy adds jobs in September as unemployment falls to 3.8 percent

Kansas Department of Labor

? As schools came back into session in September, the number of jobs in Kansas grew significantly compared to August, but for the entire year, job growth in the state remains fairly stagnant, according to a new report.

Private-sector employment in Kansas grew by 5,500 jobs, or 0.5 percent in September as the state’s unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point, to 3.8 percent, the Kansas Department of Labor announced Friday.

The report showed that the overall jobs trend in Kansas has remained relatively flat for the last year. Since September 2016, the state has lost 5,100 nonfarm jobs, or 0.3 percent.

“Kansas maintained a healthy labor market in September with the unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent and employers adding a significant number of private sector jobs,” Kansas Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said in a statement accompanying the report.

Industry sectors with the biggest employment gains included education and health care services, which added 2,600 jobs; manufacturing, which added 2,500 jobs; and professional and business services, which added 2,100 jobs.

Sectors that lost jobs over the month included trade, transportation and utilities; government services; and mining, which includes the oil and gas industry.

The Lawrence-area labor market added an estimated 2,835 jobs over the month as students and faculty returned to town, lowering the area’s unemployment rate to 2.9 percent. That’s down from 3.7 percent in August and 3.5 percent from a year ago.

The Manhattan area saw a similar boost in employment, adding an estimated 3,665 jobs over the month, lowering its unemployment rate to 2.7 percent.

Even the five-county Wichita metropolitan area, which has been in an employment slump for many months, added just more than 1,900 jobs in September, lowering its unemployment rate to an even 4 percent, down from 4.7 percent in August. Wichita’s unemployment rate has not fallen below 4 percent since April 2008.

Total employment was basically unchanged on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area, although the number of people counted as unemployed fell by more than 3,600, lowering that area’s jobless rate to 3.3 percent, down from 4.1 percent in August.

The Topeka metropolitan area shed an estimated 555 jobs over the month, but the number of people unemployed also shrank by just over 800, lowering that area’s jobless rate to 3.4 percent, down from 4 percent in August.