Purchase photos

Unemployment remains stable in northwest Kansas





Unemployment in northwest Kansas didn't change much during March compared to the rate a month earlier.

March's unemployment rate for the 20-county northwest Kansas district stood at 3.77 percent in March, representing 2,209 people who actively were looking for work.

Similar to February, Sheridan County -- with an unemployment rate of 2.6 percent -- continued to lead the region and state with the lowest unemployment rate. It was, however, slightly higher than in February.

At 5 percent, Rush County had the highest unemployment rate in the region. Ellis County stood at 3.2 percent.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted rate ticked higher to 5.6 percent, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. That's only slightly higher than the February rate of 5.5 percent. A year ago, the seasonally adjusted rate stood at 5.8 percent.

Labor markets in March remained relatively stable with the private sector gaining 3,100 jobs, most of them in construction and leisure and hospitality.

Construction added 1,800 jobs while leisure rose by 1,400 jobs.

"This month, the Kansas labor market remained more stable than the overall national market," KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon in a statement. "The U.S. labor force reported a significant decrease while the Kansas civilian labor force remained steady."

"Over the month, the state did not gain as many jobs as usual, given the March seasonal pattern," KDOL senior labor economist Tyler Tenbrink said. "This muted tone was prevalent throughout the numbers, indicating a slowdown in momentum for the month."

There were 15,069 initial claims for unemployment benefits in March, down from 16,388 initial claims in February and down from 17,997 last year. There were 128,261 continuing claims in March, down from 137,477 in February and down from 185,502 in March 2012.