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Barton County jobless numbers improve
Wracked by COVID-19, state unemployment creeping downward
jobless map
This map provided by the Kansas Department of Labor shows the unemployment figures across the state for May.

The jobless rate in Kansas rebounded some in May, following historic plunges this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to preliminary unemployment estimates reported Friday by the Labor Market Information Services division of the Kansas Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers show a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 10.0 percent in May, a decrease from 11.9 percent in April and an increase from 3.1 percent in May 2019.

In Barton County, the rate was 6.7, down a point from 7.7 in April, but up from 3.1 in May 2019. In other words, last month, of a civilian labor force of  13,738, 12,820 had jobs.

Statewide, out of a civilian labor force of 1,505,260 in May, 150,561 were unemployed.

Unemployment in Barton County has remained well above the state average during the pandemic. Among those driving that figure lower were Sedgwick County (posting 14.7% in May), Sumner (13.0) and Wyandotte (14), where higher rates hit the Wichita region, southeast Kansas and the more metropolitan northeast part of the state.

“During Governor Kelly’s response to stop the spread of COVID-19, preliminary estimates show Kansas took a step in the right direction in May,” said Secretary Delía García. “The unemployment rate in Kansas fell nearly two percentage points from 11.9 percent in April to 10.0 percent in May and the state gained over 24,000 jobs compared to last month. This follows historic job losses seen across the nation in March and April due to COVID-19.”

Seasonally adjusted job estimates indicate total Kansas nonfarm jobs increased by 24,200 from April. Private sector jobs, a subset of total nonfarm jobs, increased by 29,500 from the previous month, while government decreased by 5,300 jobs.

“Preliminary May estimates released today show Kansas gained back 17 percent of the jobs lost in March and April due to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Senior Labor Economist, Tyler Tenbrink. “The reference period for the payroll survey was the pay period including the 12th of May, during this time Kansas was in Phase One of Governor Kelly’s reopening plan.”

Since May 2019, Kansas seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs have declined by 110,100. This change is due to a decrease of 94,900 private sector jobs and 15,200 government jobs.

BLS revised seasonally adjusted preliminary total nonfarm jobs estimates for April down by 2,300 jobs, from 1,292,500 to 1,290,200. Seasonally adjusted private sector jobs were revised down by 2,700 jobs, from 1,040,500 to 1,037,800.

Nationwide, the BLS reported that the national unemployment rate declined by 1.4 percentage points over the month to 13.3 percent, but was 9.7 points higher than in May 2019. Unemployment rates were lower in May in 38 states and the District of Columbia, higher in 3 states, and stable in 9 states. 

All 50 states and the District had jobless rate increases from a year earlier. The national nonfarm payroll employment increased in 46 states, decreased in Hawaii and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in 3 states in May 2020. 

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment decreased in all 50 states and the District. 

The June 2020 labor reports will be released on Friday, July 17. 

Area unemployment rates

May 2020

• Barton County, 6.7%

• Ellsworth County, 4.0%

• Pawnee County, 5.0%

• Rice County, 5.3%

• Rush County, 6.0%

• Russell County, 6.9%

• Stafford County, 4.7%

April 2020

• Barton County, 7.7%

• Ellsworth County, 4.6%

• Pawnee County, 5.1%

• Rice County, 6.7%

• Rush County, 8.8%

• Russell County, 7.4%

• Stafford County, 5.3%

May 2019

• Barton County, 3.1%

• Ellsworth County, 3.1%

• Pawnee County, 3.0%

• Rice County, 3.0%

• Rush County, 3.5%

• Russell County, 2.9%

• Stafford County, 3.0%