Kansas Unemployment – June 2015

The State unemployment numbers for June can be interpreted different ways depending on your perspective. The Kansas Department of Labor released a report on the June figures that is presented in a positive light in how the unemployment rate in the state increased by just one tenth of a percent from 4.4 to 4.5% while the state added 5,700 jobs. Yet, this is a time of year when employment numbers and the numbers of people in the workforce usually grow. The reported workforce (which is the total number of reported people working in the state) fell by a seasonally adjusted 9,796 people in June. A month when it is not unusual to see workforce numbers grow in upwards of 20,000 as in years past. Compared to June of last year, the workforce is down by 13,788 people.

People over 65 and those 20-24 saw the most noticeable declines. The decline in older workers tended to be retirees leaving the workforce, but the 20-24 year old workforce participation numbers usually increases in the summer months because many of those are students working summer jobs between school semesters. The unexpected net decrease in a time where the overall workforce normally increases is unusual, and no one seems to have a simple answer for it. It leaves some questions moving through the summer and into the fall when workforce numbers typically level off.

There were 11,329 first time unemployment claims for June which is down about 1,500 from May but up almost 10,000 from June a year ago.

The Kansas Dept. of Labor said the labor force grew by 8,402 people compared to May in absolute numbers, but the typical gains in the neighborhood of 20,000 this time of year contributes to what becomes the seasonally adjusted loss of nearly 10,000 in the overall workforce. Without the seasonal adjustments the unemployment rate would have jumped to 4.7% rather than to the official 4.5% number. It all depends how you want to look at it, but either way the numbers are not positive overall, especially considering the time of year.

Mitchell County reported 5.8% unemployment compared to the state average of 4.5%. Jewell County had the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 7.1%. Osborne County came in at the 4.5 mark, Lincoln County at 4.3% and Smith County at 4.6.