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City jobless rate drops to 3.6%

By Burk Krohe

Local unemployment numbers dropped in December, according to a report released by the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) Tuesday.

Manhattan’s unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in December 2011 from 4.1 percent the previous month. It also fell from December 2010 when it was 4 percent. The Manhattan metropolitan statistical area, which includes areas of Geary, Pottawatomie and Riley Counties, and Riley County saw similar decreases in December.

The Manhattan MSA’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7 in December from 5 percent the previous month and from 4.9 percent during the same month in 2010. Riley County’s unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in December from 4.2 the previous month and from 4.1 during the same month in 2010.

The state’s unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, also slight over-the-month and over-the-year decreases.

“The continued steady decline in the Kansas unemployment rate is positive news, as is the over-the-year private sector job growth,” Kansas Secretary of Labor Karin Brownlee said.  “As we start a new year, we would all hope for these trends to accelerate at a faster pace.”

Six of the 11 major industries in Kansas reported over-the-year job gains. These gains were primarily in the following areas: professional and business services with a 5.7 percent increase, manufacturing with a 3.8 percent increase and education and health services with a 2.6 percent increase.

However, five of the 11 major industries in Kansas reported over-the-year job losses. These losses were primarily in the following areas: information with a 8.3 percent decrease, financial activities with a 5 percent decrease and trade, transportation and utilities with a 1.1 percent decrease.

“Employment levels were pushed up in December partly by favorable weather conditions that allowed construction activity to remain elevated through the end of the year, and partly by an increase in federal government hiring,” Tyler Tenbrink, KDOL economist, said. “This helped offset lackluster increases in retail trade during the holiday season.”

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