The Wichita-area unemployment rate dropped to a not-seasonally-adjusted 6 percent in November, the lowest level since December 2008, according to the Kansas Department of Labor.
That continues a nearly unbroken downward trend since the local unemployment rate peaked at 10.6 percent in mid-2009.
November saw one of the highest levels of employment in three years, about 288,500 people working, although that’s nowhere near the 314,000 who were working at the area’s 2008 peak.
But what makes the unemployment rate so low is that the number of people searching for work also dropped in November, hitting its lowest level since before the recession.
That means large numbers of people have left the area, retired, gone back to school or just stopped looking for work.
Sara Rader is one of those who hasn’t always been in the looking-for-work category.
She recently completed a course to learn composites fabrication and is hoping that will pay off with a job in aircraft.
Since being laid off in 2009 from Cessna Aircraft, where she made electrical harnesses, she has struggled to make ends meet as she cares for three children.
They have lived, very frugally, off of her savings.
“There are no jobs that pay more than minimum wage,” she said.
Employment in the aircraft industry has ticked up 100 since October and 2,400 since November 2011, according to a state’s November survey of employers.
Other sectors in the Wichita area showing slow but steady growth are temp companies and other business services, retailers and local government.
Overall, the survey of industry showed that the metro area has gained nearly 2,000 jobs since October and 8,000 jobs in the last year.
November unemployment rates from around Kansas include:
• Kansas – The state’s unemployment rate fell to a not-seasonally-adjusted 5.2 percent in November. When adjusted for seasonal variations, the rate is 5.4 percent, its best showing since 2008.
• Topeka – 6.1 percent unemployment.
• Kansas City – 5.4 percent unemployment.
• Lawrence – 4.8 percent unemployment.
• Manhattan – 4.7 percent unemployment.