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Wichita jobs and employment, October 2020

For the Wichita metropolitan area in October 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. The recent trend, however, is positive.

Data released today 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 October 2020.

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

Total nonfarm employment fell from 307,600 last October to 295,800 in October 2020, a loss of 11,800 jobs (3.8 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 6.0 percent. The unemployment rate in October 2020 was 6.8 percent, up from 3.1 percent one year ago.

Considering seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force rose by 6,964 persons (2.2 percent) in October 2020 from September 2020, the number of unemployed persons fell by 3,262 (12.3 percent), and the unemployment rate was 7.2 percent, down from 8.4 percent in September. The number of employed persons not working on farms rose to 298,462 in October from 288,236 the prior month, an increase of 10,226 persons (3.5 percent). (See note below.)

The following chart of the monthly change in the labor force and employment in Wichita shows the magnitude of the drop in April overwhelming other months, and then a positive change in employment for the following months, the months of little change, and then strong growth in October.

The following chart of changes from the same month one year ago shows a similar same trend — fewer jobs, although the difference is becoming smaller as more people return to work.

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 before the pandemic. In all months affected by the pandemic, we see the loss in employment Wichita has not been as severe as the nation.

The following chart shows the monthly change in nonfarm jobs for Wichita and the nation. For September, the number of jobs in Wichita was unchanged, while for the nation, the number grew a small amount. For the last four months, Wichita employment has been growing at a rate slower than the national rate.

The link to the archived version of the BLS news release for this month is here.

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. Since the pandemic, however, Wichita has been outperforming the nation.

(For data on all metropolitan areas in the nation, see my interactive visualization Metro area employment and unemployment. It is updated through October 2020.)

A note: There are two series of employment data used by me to produce these tables and charts. One series comes from CES, the establishment survey, and another comes from a program called Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates, or SSAM. Usually, there is not much difference in the data from the two sources. For October 2020, the SSAM value is 2.0 percent higher than the CES value. For the two previous months the SSAM value was lower by 1.5 percent and 1.6 percent from the CES value. This is much larger than the average difference of 0.3 percent for the previous 18 months. I’ve inquired to BLS and will update as I find an explanation.

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