Unemployment edged even lower and Kansas added thousands of jobs in February, the Kansas Department of Labor reported today.
Kansas added 4,200 non-farm jobs last month, marking the biggest monthly job gains since 2012. The Department of Labor estimates the state gained 5,500 private sector jobs.
The Sunflower State’s unemployment rate also nudged lower to 4 percent, down from 4.1 percent. The rate is lower than Kansas’ pre-recession rate of 4.2 percent.
Michael Austin, an economist at the Kansas Department of Revenue, called the report good news.
“At the same time, we’re seeing a growth in wages,” Austin said.
The growth in wages coupled with job gains paint a positive picture for Kansas’ fiscal health, he said.
State revenues beat expectations last month. Kansas collected about $36.9 million more in February than anticipated. The windfall shaved a projected budget shortfall from $330 million to $280 million.
Austin said much of those revenues are income tax withholdings.
“When you think about withholdings, that’s really driven by people finding work or people seeing growth in their wages,” Austin said. “This February report shows growth in wages and growth in jobs, so withholdings are up. Jobs are up.”
Though the labor report showed major gains in month-over-month job growth, the state is down about 400 jobs in total over last year.
“Preliminary estimates for February show a notable increase in private sector jobs compared to last month,” labor department senior economist Tyler Tenbrink said. “The health care and construction industries each added more jobs than expected.”
Tenbrink said total non-farm employment changed little, he said.
“Other indicators of the labor market such as the unemployment rate, labor force, and the average weekly hours worked also show little change from a year ago,” he said.
Austin wouldn’t make any predictions on Kansas’ future, but he said he’s hopeful.
“What you can take from this report is that there’s a continued low unemployment rate in the state of Kansas, which shows continuing improvement in the fiscal health of Kansas,” Austin said. “I’m hopeful that this good news will continue in both the labor market and in its relationship to our tax revenues as well.”