Unemployment pegged at 6.5% for Kansas City area

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday that the Kansas City metropolitan area had a jobless rate of 6.5 percent in May.

That was up from 6.1 percent in April but still better than a year ago and better than the national average.

Total nonfarm employment for the metro area was 1,013,300 in May 2013, up 9,500 jobs from May 2012.

Metro area jobs data for this report are not seasonally adjusted. On that basis, the national unemployment rate for May was 7.3 percent. The national rate was reported at 7.6 percent for the month because it adjusts for seasonal fluctuations.

The Kansas City area recorded 0.9 percent job growth over the 12 months, compared with national employment growth of 1.6 percent.

The labor bureau reported that the Kansas side of the metro area, which employs 45 percent of the area’s workforce, gained 9,500 jobs over the year. The Missouri side of the area, with 55 percent of the workforce, had no net change.

The Kansas City office of the statistics bureau said the Kansas side of the metro area has surpassed its previous employment peak of 452,800, which it hit in June 2008. The May 2013 count was 454,800.

The bureau said the business and professional service sector is the job engine for the metro area. It gained 6,800 jobs over the 12 months. The local growth rate for that sector was 4.4 percent, compared with a national rate of 3.4 percent. That job growth occurred on the Kansas side of the line.

The sector with the second biggest growth rate in employment was leisure and hospitality, which added a net 4,200 jobs over the year. That job growth occurred on the Missouri side of the metro area.

The government sector lost 1,700 from May to May, with most of the losses on the Missouri side.

The bureau said seasonal employment helped boost total nonfarm employment by 8,800 jobs from April to May this year. Because about 6,000 more people entered the job market, the jobless rate grew even though jobs increased.