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Economy

Kansas Loses Jobs As Unemployment Rate Ticks Higher

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As the nation gained jobs during the month of July, Kansas lost them. At the same time, the state's unemployment rate also moved higher.

The number of jobs in Kansas fell by 5,600 in the month of July. The state labor department says most of those jobs – 4,600 – were in the private sector.

The job losses helped push the Kansas unemployment rate from 3.8 percent in June up to 4.1 percent. That unemployment rate is still lower than the national average of 4.9 percent, but the loss of more than 4,000 private-sector jobs in one month could be of concern to Gov. Sam Brownback. His administration views private-sector job growth as a key indicator of the health of the Kansas economy, and the state has been losing those kinds of jobs.

An industry group is blaming KDOT’s budget woes for the unemployment uptick.

Bob Totten with the Kansas Contractor’s Association says the state lost 4,400 construction jobs last year because there wasn’t money to build and repair roads.

“I daresay that if we’d put the $2.7 billion into highway construction, we’d have more jobs, and we wouldn’t see the trend right now where unemployment has gone to 4.1 percent,” he says.

Totten says he’s seeing more Kansas construction workers taking jobs in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas and spending their wages out of state.