Kansas unemployment rate declines to 3.7% in March

    The unemployment rate in Kansas declined by 0.1% in March to 3.7%, which was far below the COVID-19 peak of 11.9% in April 2020 but above the 3.2% rate in March 2020. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
    The unemployment rate in Kansas declined by 0.1% in March to 3.7%, which was far below the COVID-19 peak of 11.9% in April 2020 but above the 3.2% rate in March 2020. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — The unemployment rate in Kansas dropped slightly by 0.1% in March as the state’s economy added more than 12,000 private-sector jobs since February, officials said Friday.

    The Kansas Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the seasonally adjusted rate for March was 3.7%, down from 3.8% in February. However, the figure remained above the 3.2% number for March 2020 reflecting conditions as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

    Amber Shultz, secretary of the Department of Labor, said the 3.7% rate should be considered “relatively low.” In April 2020, with the coronavirus surging, the state’s unemployment rate reached a high of 11.9%.

    “Kansas has shown significant recovery, adding over 12,000 jobs in March, with eight of the major sectors contributing to that growth,” she said.

    The state’s employment report showed loss of 48,900 nonfarm jobs since March 2020. Most of those were in the private sector, which has condensed by 35,700, as the government sector’s diminished by 13,200 jobs. In March, Kansas had 1.3 million employed people.

    Emilie Doerksen, an economist with the labor department, said Kansas reported growth of more than 1,000 jobs during March in five business sectors.

    “The largest gains were in construction as the industry rebounded following weather-related declines in February,” she said.

    Since March 2020, the Department of Labor has paid out $2.9 million in state and federal unemployment benefits through issuance of 4.3 million weekly claims by people out of work.

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    Tim Carpenter
    Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.