News Briefs

Unemployment rate in Kansas declines to 6.9% in August

By: - September 19, 2020 12:10 pm
The Kansas unemployment rate in November increased for the first time in six months to 5.6%. The rate in November 2019 was 3.1%, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the rate to a high of 11.9% in April (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

The Kansas unemployment rate in November increased for the first time in six months to 5.6%. The rate in November 2019 was 3.1%, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the rate to a high of 11.9% in April (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The jobless rate in Kansas diminished to 6.9% in August, but remained twice the rate of unemployment reported before the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the economy.

The Kansas Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 96,000 Kansans received unemployment insurance benefits during August.

“Data for August demonstrates continued progress in Kansas with the unemployment rate and job growth moving in the right direction,” said Ryan Wright, secretary of the state Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate for Kansas fell from 7.2% in July. The August 2019 figure was 3.1%.

The preliminary analysis indicated Kansas added 9,300 nonfarm jobs in August. The figure reflects the addition of 5,500 jobs in the private sector and the expansion of government employment by 3,800 jobs.

Emilie Doerksen, an economist with the state labor department, said August was the fourth consecutive month that Kansas employers did more hiring. About 52% of jobs lost during March and April as the pandemic took root have been recovered, she said.

Since August 2019, officials said, there has been a decline of 61,400 nonfarm jobs throughout the state. More than 53,000 of those positions were in the private sector.

Since March 15, the state Department of Labor has paid out more than two million weekly claims totaling over $1.9 billion between regular unemployment assistance and the federal pandemic programs.

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Tim Carpenter
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.

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