Kansas’ unemployment rate dips to 5.3% in October, down from April high of 11.9%

    The Kansas unemployment rate dipped to 5.3% in October to continue a six-month trend driving down the jobless rate from a high of 11.9% in April as the COVID-19 pandemic took root. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
    The Kansas unemployment rate dipped to 5.3% in October to continue a six-month trend driving down the jobless rate from a high of 11.9% in April as the COVID-19 pandemic took root. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — The Kansas unemployment rate fell to 5.3% in October after an increase to double-digits this spring in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The preliminary figure from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Kansas Department of Labor revealed a decline from 5.9% in September. It remains well above the typical pre-coronavirus jobless figure of 3.1% that existed in October 2019.

    Ryan Wright, acting secretary of the state Department of Labor, said the monthly analysis was a sign the Kansas economy was making progress from the COVID-19 shock that escalated unemployment to a high of 11.9% in April.

    “The October report shows that Kansas has continued to make an economic recovery during the pandemic,” Wright said. “We have seen an increase in the number of jobs and those employed in the labor force, along with another drop in the unemployment rate.”

    Steady reduction in the Kansas unemployment has been reflected in monthly rates of 10% in May, 7.5% in June, 7.2% in July, 6.9% in August, 5.9% in September and 5.3% in October.

    The state and federal labor agencies reported total Kansas nonfarm jobs increased by 7,200 in October. Private sector jobs, which is included in total nonfarm jobs, increased 5,900 from the previous month, while government employment climbed 1,300.

    Emilie Doerksen, an economist with the state Department of Labor, said the October analysis demonstrated Kansas had recovered 54.6% of nonfarm jobs lost at outset of the pandemic in March and April.

    “The professional and business services and leisure and hospitality industries saw the largest increases in October, with each industry adding more than 2,500 jobs,” she said.

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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.