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Kansas jobs, March 2020

Employment fell in Kansas in March 2020 compared to the prior month, but it still higher than last March. It is unclear how the pandemic has affected this data.

Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a mixed picture for employment in Kansas for March 2020.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to assess the meaning of the March data. BLS gathers this data through two survey programs. For employment data derived from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, also known as the payroll survey or the establishment survey and which counts jobs, the estimate is for the pay period that includes the twelfth day of the month. For data from the Current Population Survey, which counts people, the estimate is for the “reference week,” which is usually the week that includes the twelfth day of the month. For Kansas, here are the dates of some major events that would be expected to affect employment:

  • March 13: President Trump declares a national emergency that began on March 1.
  • March 16: Social distancing guidelines announced for the nation.
  • March 24: Kansas City metro area stay-at-home order takes effect.
  • March 25: Sedgwick County stay-at-home order takes effect.
  • March 30: Kansas stay-at-home order takes effect.

As noted, the BLS data is collected nearer the start of the month than the end. For Kansas, these events that should affect employment occurred mostly towards the end of the month. There were also these two major events that affected employment in recent months: Spirit Aerosytems announced layoffs (2,796) that started January 22 1, according to news reports, and Textron (875) the month before 2.

BLS also offered this guidance, and more, for the March data:

We cannot precisely quantify the effects of the pandemic on the job market in March. However, it is clear that the decrease in employment and hours and the increase in unemployment can be ascribed to the effects of the illness and efforts to contain the virus. It is important to keep in mind that the March survey reference periods for both surveys predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures in the second half of the month. 3

The number of initial unemployment claims is a different set of data that provides insight. In Kansas, it was the week ending March 21 that saw the first big jump in initial claims, with 23,925 reported compared to 1,820 the prior week and 1,292 the same time last year. 4

(Click charts and tables for larger versions.)

Using seasonally adjusted data, from February 2020 to March 2020, nonfarm employment in Kansas fell by 5,900 (0.4 percent). Over the year, the number of Kansas nonfarm jobs for March 2020 rose by 9,700 (0.7 percent) over the same month last year. This is using seasonally adjusted data. The non-adjusted figure is lower at 9,200 (0.7 percent).

Over the year (March 2019 to March 2020), the Kansas labor force is up by 16,537 (1.1 percent) using seasonally adjusted data, with an increase of 1,878 (0.2 percent) over the last month. Non-seasonal data shows an increase of 19,832 (1.3 percent) in the labor force over the year.

The number of unemployed persons fell from February 2020 to March 2020 by 273 (0.6 percent). The unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in March, down 0.1 percentage points from one year ago, and unchanged from last month.

Comparing Kansas to the nation: Using seasonal data, Kansas nonfarm jobs increased by 0.68 percent over the past 12 months, while national jobs grew by 1.00 percent. Non-seasonal data shows Kansas nonfarm jobs rising by 0.65 percent over the past 12 months, while national jobs grew by 0.97 percent.

The release for March 2020 holds some seasonally adjusted data for manufacturing employment in Kansas as follows (in thousands of jobs):

Dec 2019: 167.0
Jan 2020: 168.8
Feb 2020: 168.4
March 2020: 168.7

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

In the following chart showing job changes from the previous month, Kansas has outperformed the nation in some months. The March figures are notable for their magnitude.

In the following chart of showing job changes from the same month one year ago, Kansas is always below the national rate. The recent trend shows Kansas doing better until March.


Notes

  1. https://www.kansasworks.com/ada/mn_warn_dsp.cfm?id=2021
  2. Textron, Inc. Form 8-K, December 5, 2019. Available at https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/217346/000110465919070378/tm1924597-1_8k.htm.
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Frequently asked questions: The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on The Employment Situation for March 2020. Available at http://www.bls.gov/cps/employment-situation-covid19-faq-march-2020.pdf.
  4. Kansas Department of Labor. Unemployment Insurance Weekly Review, Week Ending March 21, 2020 . Available at https://klic.dol.ks.gov/admin/gsipub/htmlarea/uploads/UI%20Weekly%20Review%2003212020.pdf.
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