Wichita unemployment rate rises sharply in July to 6.5 percent

08/18/2014 9:40 AM

08/18/2014 2:49 PM

The Wichita area unemployment rate for July was 6.5 percent, well up from 5.9 percent in June,

What’s driving the rate increase is a jump in the number of the unemployed – from about 17,800 in July to about 19,900 in July – even as the number of people working in Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey and Sumner counties remained about the same, at about 286,300.

The reason for the jump may be mostly temporary, reflecting students and seasonal school employees looking for work. The July rate was not seasonally adjusted, and July often has the highest unemployment rate of the year.

Taking a longer view, the rate is coming down, but slowly. The rate peaked at 10.6 percent in July 2009 and has fallen about four percentage points in the five years since.

“While it’s a small improvement, I would’ve like it to be better,” said Malcolm Harris, a economist and professor at Friends University.

A separate monthly survey, called the non-farm jobs survey, showed that the sectors seeing the biggest gains from a year ago were health care, and restaurants and hotels.

The biggest drag on employment growth in Wichita remains the same sector that has been shrinking for more than five years: aircraft manufacturing, which has fallen from a peak of more than 42,000 in late 2008 to 25,700 in July.

For the state as a whole, the not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in July, up from 5.1 percent in June, but down from 6.0 percent in July of 2013.

The unemployment rates for other metro areas in Kansas were: Topeka, 5.6 percent; Kansas side of Kansas City, 5.6 percent; Lawrence, 5.1 percent; Manhattan, 5.1 percent.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

July unemployment rates in the Wichita area

2009: 10.6%

2010: 9.2

2011: 8.2

2012: 7.5

2013: 6.9

2014: 6.5

Wichita Top Jobs

View All Top Jobs

Join the Discussion

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service