Area jobless rate was 6.6 percent in March

Kansas City area employers added a net 1,800 jobs from March 2012 to March 2013, a 0.2 percent increase.

Despite little job creation, the area’s unemployment rate dropped over the 12 months to 6.6 percent from 7.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

The drop in joblessness was partly due to about 8,000 workers leaving the local labor force and no longer being counted as working or looking for work.

According to the bureau’s survey, the number of unemployed job hunters in the metro area fell to 68,600 in March this year, down from 74,100 a year earlier. The number of unemployed continued to decline from February to March this year, the bureau estimated.

The Kansas City area was one of 306 major U.S. metropolitan areas — out of 372 tracked by the bureau — that had lower unemployment rates in March 2013 than March 2012.

It was one of 287 metro areas that had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment. The biggest gain was a 7.7 percent payroll growth in Odessa, Texas. The largest decrease in employment was a 4.9 percent drop in Decatur, Ill.

The metropolitan statistics aren’t seasonally adjusted. Nationally, the average unemployment rate in March, figured on that basis, was 7.6 percent.

The Kansas City office of the labor bureau said that the Kansas side of the metro area, which has about 45 percent of the area’s workforce, gained a net 6,900 jobs over the 12 months, while the Missouri side, with 55 percent of the workforce, lost a net 5,100.

The area’s professional and business services job sector had the largest employment increase, gaining 3,400 jobs over the 12 months.

Leisure and hospitality jobs were the second biggest gainers, up 2,100 over the year.

Net metro area losses occurred in education and health services; government; and trade, transportation and utilities, the bureau reported.