Wichita-area unemployment rate drops, but rate for state edges up

The unemployment rate for the Wichita area dropped another notch in April, falling to 4.8 percent. It had been 4.9 percent in March.

The rate for April 2014 also was 4.9 percent, according to data on the state Department of Labor website.

According to a news release from state labor department officials, Kansas’ unemployment rate in April was 4.3 percent. That seasonally adjusted number was up from 4.2 percent in March, but down from a rate of 4.5 percent in April 2014.

In the Wichita metro area, the labor pool – people who are working or looking for work – showed continued deterioration.

The civilian labor force stood at 307,497 in April, down from 310,539 in April 2014. The labor force numbers did show an increase of about 130 from March 2015.

And the number of employed in the metro area grew by 360, while those counted as unemployed dropped by 227, compared with March.

Since the recession, Wichita’s labor pool has shown a fairly continual decline, which is in part attributed to economic factors and is in part a reflection of baby boomers leaving the workforce. The Wichita metro area includes Sedgwick, Sumner, Butler, Harvey and Kingman counties.

Statewide, officials said the state gained 11,300 jobs over the past year. But Kansas lost 2,900 jobs from March to April.

“The number of jobs in manufacturing has fallen by 3,100 from the same month last year. This decline is partly due to temporary layoffs that took place during the survey reference week,” Tyler Tenbrink, senior labor economist for the state, said in a news release. “Also, lower gas prices have led to weakness in the oil and gas drilling industry. These factors combined have resulted in slower overall job growth in Kansas over the year.”