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Unemployment numbers varied in region

12/6/2013

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

It's the season, all right, for unemployment rates to go down. In some cases, dramatically so. Other counties seemed to skyrocket.

That's the situation in northwest Kansas, where October's unemployment rate plummeted to just slightly more than 3 percent. Only Wallace County -- at 5 percent unemployment -- had an unemployment rate comparable to the state's, but it's a level affecting fewer than 50 people actively looking for work.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell only slightly to 5.6 percent in October compared to September's 5.7 percent, which went unreported because of the federal government shutdown.

The October numbers were reported recently by the Kansas Department of Labor and included September's unemployment rate.

"Due to the lapse in funding, Bureau of Labor Statistics data collection, analysis and dissemination activities were suspended from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16," KDOL reported when it released the October numbers.

The state's situation is markedly different than what it is in northwest Kansas, where nearly 1,900 people actively are looking for work, out of the more than 61,500 in the labor pool.

In a twist, northwest Kansas was knocked from its perch, at least in terms of dominating the low unemployment category.

In October, Greeley County retained its grip on the top spot with an unemployment rate of 2.3 percent. They had just 20 people out of work, out of a labor force of nearly 900 people.

Clark and Kiowa counties followed -- along with Sheridan County from northwest Kansas -- with unemployment rates of 2.4 percent.

Ness and Ellis counties were in the top 10 as well, at least in terms of boasting the lowest unemployment rates.

While population out-migration has been a dilemma for many rural western Kansas counties, the jump in unemployment hasn't touched them, and the rebound in what little dip there was has been fast.

In all, 76 of the state's 105 counties have unemployment rates of less than 5 percent. With the exception of Johnson County, it's the larger counties where unemployment exceeds 5 percent and pushes the state's rate higher.

Ellis County, at 2.6 percent unemployment, is the largest county in the state with a small jobless rate.