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    January 2017

Employment levels remain flat, while unemployment rate continues to decline

Employment levels in Kansas City remained flat in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The metro employment level (seasonally adjusted) stands at 1,056,200. This is an increase of 10,000 from one year earlier, but the local labor market has not seen appreciable growth since early summer. Barring a big spike in the December numbers, 2016 will not be as good a year for employment growth as 2015 was.

Despite the stagnant employment picture, Kansas City’s unemployment rate has declined for the fourth straight month and now stands at 3.8 percent.

Last month we noted the recent declines in help-wanted activity in the region and suggested this was worth monitoring closely. November’s numbers continued to decline and reached the lowest point in two years. Want ads are a good indicator of employer confidence. If employers see growth ahead, they will prepare for that growth by looking for potential new employees.

We wondered whether the decrease in job postings was led by one particular industry or was more of an across-the-board decline, and our analysis tells us it is a little of both. We have seen modest declines in most major occupation sectors during the last half of 2016. Sales, health care, management and education occupations all saw slight declines in want-ad activity since the summer. We have also seen a sharp drop in transportation and material handling occupations, which fell from nearly 4,000 unique want ads in September to just under 1,500 in November.

Help wanted ads have been a volatile indicator and the trend could turn the other direction quickly. But the fact that the downward trend has persisted for three months and appears to be occurring across most occupation sectors is a cause for concern.

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[The current number of jobs in the Kansas City metro as determined by the monthly Current Employment Statistics survey.]

Overall employment remained flat in 2016.

Chart comparing employment totals to prior years

[The number of unemployed as a percent of the total labor force, not seasonally adjusted.]

The unemployment rate dropped for the fourth straight month to 3.8 percent.

Chart comparing unemployment rate to prior years

Even though our unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent, that still puts us on the high side among our peer metros.

Chart comparing peer metros

Monthly job postings fell for the third straight month and were lower than one year ago.

Chart comparing job postings to prior years

Most recent Employment by Industry infographic

Employment by Industry Infographic
(Click to enlarge)

About RWIN

MARC developed the Regional Workforce Intelligence Network to encourage greater collaboration among the region's workforce data and information professionals.

RWIN is a collaboration of economic development professionals, one-stop centers, workforce centers, community colleges and universities that meets on a monthly basis.

For more information, visit

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Mid-America Regional Council | 600 Broadway, Suite 200 | Kansas City, MO 64105 | Ph. 816-474-4240 |
Data sources: Kansas Department of Labor, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), The Conference Board and EMSI.
Regional data includes Franklin, Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Bates, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson,
Lafayette, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri.

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