Unemployment up for 1st time since 2009

The Kansas unemployment rate for August increased — the first monthly increase in more than two years ­— as the state job market continued to struggle, officials reported Thursday.

The jobless rate for August was 6.9 percent, up from 6.8 percent in July and down from 7.1 percent in August 2010. The seasonally adjusted rate for August was 6.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent in July and down from 7 percent in August 2010.

“Overall there has been no noticeable improvement in the Kansas labor market since April,” said Tyler Tenbrink, an economist with the Kansas Department of Labor.

“This lack of employment growth has manifested itself in an increased unemployment rate for the state. This is the first increase in the statewide unemployment rate since July 2009,” Tenbrink said.

Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee said, “It is difficult for Kansas to recover from a significant recession without faster-paced job growth.”

Statewide, Kansas gained 2,500 private-sector jobs since July but lost 4,800 government jobs, according to the report.

Claims for unemployment compensation also increased.

There were 21,420 initial claims for unemployment benefits in August, up from 19,706 initial claims in July and an increase from 17,632 in August 2010.

There were 231,076 continued claims in August, up from 192,155 in July and a decrease from 235,654 in August 2010.

Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback said he was encouraged by the “trajectory” of private-sector job growth in Kansas. “We need to accelerate it,” he said.

He added, “The likelihood of public-sector jobs being sustainable in the near term is not high.”

By Scott Rothschild

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