The July unemployment rate in the five-county Topeka area fell to 6.9%, while the statewide figure settled at 7.2%. The metro region with the highest jobless rate was Wichita at 10.9% in July. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — The number of unemployed Kansans has fallen during the pandemic from a high of 179,000 in April to 106,000 in July.
The Kansas Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 7.2% in July. That was down from 7.5% in June and below the coronavirus-elevated levels of 10% in May and 11.9% in April.
Typically, Kansas unemployment hovers around 3%. In July 2019, the state’s rate was 3.1%.
“It’s encouraging to see the unemployment rate drop for the third month in a row,” said Ryan Wright, secretary at the state Department of Labor.
He said the number of unemployed in Kansas decreased by 4,000 over the month. The state’s total of people without a job in July was 64,000 greater than in March, the point at which COVID-19 began to disrupt the economy.
In the state’s four metropolitan areas during July, unemployment ranged from 6.9% to 10.9%. Wichita had the highest jobless figure at 10.9%, an increase of 0.1% from June. The Kansas City area reported 7.3% unemployment, an improvement over the month from 7.5%. The Topeka area had a rate of 6.9%, down from 7.2%. The Manhattan figure was stable at 7.4%.
Emilie Doerksen, an economist at the Kansas labor department, said the state accounted for 1.3 million nonfarm jobs in July. That figure increased by 10,000 over the month through expansion in local government and food services, she said.
Total nonfarm jobs last month were 68,000 lower than in July 2019, Doerksen said. Manufacturing, leisure and hospitality sectors of the economy accounted for 30,000 of that decline, she said.
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