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Northwest Kansas shines in unemployment ratings





Even as the Kansas Department of Labor attempts to put its best foot forward, northwest Kansas continues to shine -- as far as unemployment rates are concerned.

Gove County was July's monthly winner in the state rate for the lowest unemployment rate, with just 2.6 percent of its workforce looking for a job. That's equal to Greeley County's unemployment rate, according to the Kansas Department of Labor, which released unemployment rates Monday.

Trego County wasn't far behind at 2.7 percent.

Of course, Ellis, Ness and Sheridan counties weren't far behind either, finishing in the top 10 lowest unemployment rates.

KDOL tried to put its best foot forward in the latest report, boasting a 4.9-percent unemployment rate -- down from 5.6 percent a year ago.

The agency didn't mention July's rate was unchanged from a month ago.

It did, however, report the state's not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent for July. That's up from 5.1 percent in June, but down from 6 percent last year.

It also reported Kansas had gained 13,500 seasonally adjusted private-sector jobs and 13,800 nonfarm jobs in the past year.

In the past month, Kansas gained a paltry 900 seasonally adjusted private-sector jobs, a 0.1-percent increase. The state gained 2,100 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs, a 0.2-percent increase since last month, it reported.

"Several signs demonstrate continuing strength in the Kansas economy," said KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon. "We continue to see private-sector job growth and low unemployment with the number of Kansans working at one of the highest levels in state history."

The not seasonally adjusted numbers show Kansas gained 21,200 private sector jobs in the past year, up 2 percent, and 22,300 nonfarm jobs, an increase of approximately 1.5 percent.

In the past month, Kansas gained 4,000 private-sector jobs, KDOL reported.

The state lost 14,800 nonfarm jobs during the month, a 1.1-percent decline, primarily due to seasonal declines in local government for teachers heading out on summer break.

"Part of the seasonal pattern the state goes through each summer is the decline in jobs in June, when the school year ends, and in July when summer school finishes," said KDOL senior labor economist Tyler Tenbrink. "This explains the monthly change in not seasonally adjusted jobs. When educators return from their break, these jobs will return in the September estimates. Further, the 2013 to 2014 July comparison shows good growth in jobs."

There were 12,193 initial claims for unemployment benefits in July, an increase from 9,844 in June and down from 14,264 last year. There were 73,127 continued claims in July, down from 87,190 the previous month and down from 131,851 in July 2013.