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Kansas unemployment holds at 2.5% in March, inflation leaves a mark

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TOPEKA — The Kansas unemployment rate remained steady at 2.5% in March while inflation eclipsed wage improvements to produce a decline in real earnings, state labor officials said Friday.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment figure for the state held at the February level after diminishing far below the 3.5% recorded in March 2021, based on estimates by the Kansas Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of people unable to land a job has declined during the year from 51,800 to 36,200. Overall employment grew in Kansas to 1.46 million in March, but the state’s labor force expanded by a comparable number.

Nathan Kessler, an economist at the state Department of Labor, said hourly wages trended higher in March to a level 6.6% higher than one year ago.

“However, due to continued inflationary pressure, Kansas real hourly earnings declined by 1.8% compared to March 2021,” he said.

In March, total nonfarm payroll employment in Kansas fell by 2,300. Private sector employment tumbled by 1,800 over the month and government employment dropped by 500.

In the past year, Kansas has recorded an increase of 19,900 total nonfarm jobs. The increase was due to addition of 20,500 private-sector jobs. Government employment since March 2021 has fallen by 600.

Here are the unemployment rates for March 2022 and March 2021 in major population centers: Wichita region (five counties), 3.6% versus 4.8%; Kansas City (five counties), 2.8% versus 3.3%; Topeka (five counties), 3.1% versus 3.2%; Manhattan (two counties), 2.6% versus 2.8%; and Lawrence (Douglas County), 2.7% versus 3.4%.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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