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    August 2017

KC labor market is strong, but concerns emerge

The Kansas City region’s employment level dropped slightly in June to 1,083,500. This is still up 22,000 jobs from one year ago. Despite the employment drop, the metro’s unemployment rate also fell to 3.8 percent (down from 3.9 percent in June).

Not to be left out, job postings also declined for the third consecutive month. This variable has struggled to match 2016 levels so far this year. Despite the declines, there were still nearly 19,000 job postings in the Kansas City area in June.

All of this paints a strong labor market picture (metro employment is near an all-time high, after all), but there could be a few warning signs of concern.

Among these signs is the recent decline in construction employment. In Kansas City, construction employment had grown since 2012, but in recent months, employment has slipped below 2016 levels. This is not just a Kansas City phenomenon. This employment decline matches a national decline in construction spending that started in the spring.

Construction is just one industry, but still the declines are noteworthy, especially in a strong economy with low interest rates. This could be a short-term blip or the start of something more worrisome. We will keep our eyes on it over the coming months.

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

Employment held steady in June, with 1,083,500 jobs, still well above last year.

Chart comparing employment totals to prior years

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

After spiking to 3.9 percent in May, the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 3.8 percent, in June.

Chart comparing unemployment rate to prior years

June's 3.8 percent unemployment rate was an improvement compared to peer metros. Last month we had the 5th highest unemployment rate, but now are right in the middle of the group.

Chart comparing peer metros

Job postings continued to decline, dropping to 18,863 — well below last year's 21,655 postings for June.

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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