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Wichita jobs and employment, May 2020

For the Wichita metropolitan area in May 2020, the number of unemployed persons is up, the unemployment rate is up, and the number of people working is down, all by large amounts, when compared to the same month one year ago, but improving from April.

Data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows the effects of the response to the pandemic in the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area for May 2020.

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

Total nonfarm employment fell from 307,500 last May to 285,000 in May 2020, a loss of 22,500 jobs (7.3 percent). (This data is not seasonally adjusted, so month-to-month comparisons are not valid.) For the same period, employment in the nation fell by 11.7 percent. The unemployment rate in May 2020 was 13.9 percent, up from 3.2 percent one year ago.

Considering seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force rose by 4,407 persons (1.3 percent) in May 2020 from April 2020, the number of unemployed persons fell by 14,143 (23.2 percent), and the unemployment rate was 14.2 percent, down from 18.2 percent in April. The number of employed persons not working on farms rose to 283,562 in May from 273,826 the prior month, an increase of 9,736 persons (3.6 percent).

The following chart of the monthly change in the labor force and employment shows the magnitude of the drop in April overwhelming other months, and then a positive change in May.

The following chart of changes from the same month one year ago shows a similar same trend — fewer jobs, although the labor force grew.

The following chart of changes in employment from the same month of the previous year shows months when the Wichita MSA performed better than the nation. For April and May 2020, the two full months first affected by the pandemic, we see the decline in employment Wichita has not been as severe as the nation..

The following two charts show changes in jobs for Wichita and the nation over longer periods. The change is calculated from the same month of the previous year. For times when the Wichita line was above the nation, Wichita was growing faster than the nation. This was often the case during the decades starting in 1990 and 2000. Since 2010, however, Wichita has rarely outperformed the nation and sometimes has been far below the nation.

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