Kansas recovers 80% of jobs lost to COVID-19, jobless figure ticks up to 2.5%

TOPEKA – Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt said Kansas’ inability to regain a fifth of the jobs that had evaporated during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic should be laid at the feet of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Preliminary estimates for August showed Kansas had regained 80.4% of 157,400 nonfarm jobs — a combination of private sector and government jobs — lost in March and April 2020. Nationwide, by August the economy had gained 101.1% of 21.9 million jobs that disappeared as businesses struggled with the spread of the deadly virus.

“Although the U.S. economy has made up for all the job losses caused by the pandemic and more, more than 30,000 here in Kansas still have not returned,” said Schmidt, the state’s attorney general. “Kansas needs to do better because every job and every paycheck for every Kansan is essential.”

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In Kansas, the decline in economic activity was felt most severely in the government, education, leisure and hospitality, and business services sectors.

Kelly is seeking re-election for a second term in November against Schmidt, independent candidate Dennis Pyle and Libertarian Party candidate.

Kelly said her government has been working with private sector companies to create or retain more than 50,100 jobs since taking office in January 2019. Lt. gov. David Toland said the growth was tied to the initiation of 732 economic development projects representing $13.8 billion in investments in Kansas.

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“This work Numbers, combined with record-breaking private sector new investment, have pushed our unemployment rates to historic lows and underscored the strength of Kansas’ economy,” Kelly said.

The Kansas Department of Labor reported that the state shed 3,400 nonfarm jobs when comparing August employment to July. This represented a drop of 2,100 jobs in the private sector and 1,300 jobs in the public sector.

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In the past 12 months, Kansas has added 15,100 nonfarm payrolls to the economy. This reflected an increase of 18,200 jobs in the private sector and a reduction of 3,100 jobs in the public sector.

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 2.5% in August from 2.4% in July, based on reports from the state Department of Labor and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for Kansas in August 2021 was 3.2%.

“Estimates for the unemployment rate remain below pre-pandemic levels and near historic lows,” said Ambber Shultz, secretary of the state Labor Department.

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