Yael T. Abouhalkah

Weak Kansas jobs market one of nation’s worst over last 12 months

The state of Kansas is not the “king” of job growth, which is not good news for Gov. Sam Brownback (right).
The state of Kansas is not the “king” of job growth, which is not good news for Gov. Sam Brownback (right). File photo

The Kansas jobs market is not just one of the worst in the nation at the present time. It’s one of the worst, by several measures, over the last 12 months.

The unemployment rate is up.

The civilian labor force is down.

Jobs are growing weakly.

All of this is significant, because it indicates Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts are not working to stoke the state economy and to create more employment.

Just last week, a new federal report showed Kansas had lost 3,800 jobs in May. That was one of the biggest drops in the country.

Supporters of Brownback and his tax-cut strategy often say it’s unfair to look at just one month. You have to look at the big picture, they say.

Fine, let’s compare a few employment figures from May of 2014 with those from May of 2015. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics makes that easy to do because it compiles these types of year-to-year comparisons.

The result?

The big picture for Kansas is pretty ugly.

▪ The Kansas unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in May, down slightly from 4.5 percent in May of 2014.

However, most other states posted more significant declines in their unemployment rates during that stretch.

Missouri, for instance, went from 6.1 percent to 5.8 percent.

Nebraska’s decline was from 3.4 percent to 2.6 percent.

Indeed, only four other states in the nation actually had higher unemployment rates over that 12 months, meaning Kansas was close to joining some pretty dire company.

▪ The Kansas unemployment rate in May was the 16th lowest in the country. Sounds good, until you realize it was the 10th lowest in May of 2014.

The state’s unemployment rate — which the Brownback administration often points to as a mark of distinction — is moving in the wrong direction.

▪ The Kansas civilian labor force actually declined in the last 12 months, indicating the number of people looking for jobs is going, again, in the wrong direction.

The civilian labor forces went down in only seven other U.S. states.

▪ Finally, Kansas has gained 6,500 jobs over the last year, for a growth rate of .5 percent.

Only two other states have had slower growth rates over that time span.

In the short term, the jobs market in Kansas looks pretty bad.

In the long term, it doesn’t look any better, sorry to say.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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