Kansas Department of Labor

TOPEKA, Kansas — The head of the agency that’s overseeing Kansas’ response to historic unemployment rates during the coronavirus pandemic resigned Monday.

Governor Laura Kelly said in a statement that Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Delía García “inherited an agency that had its funding, its technology and its staff gutted by the previous administration."

She did not say whether García’s resignation was requested, and at a news conference later Monday, she said: “I met with Secretary Garcia Sunday night, and she offered her resignation and I accepted it.”

TOPEKA, Kansas — A month into the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, one thing is clear: The Kansas Department of Labor found itself unprepared for a record number of jobless claims filed by people suddenly tossed out of work.

“It’s completely unprecedented,” said Brett Flachsbarth, deputy secretary and a 15-year veteran of the agency.

Since March 14, more than 160,000 Kansans have filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits. That is a 2,457% increase over the previous month.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Suddenly tossed from their jobs by the coronavirus shutdown, people from across the state continue to deluge the Kansas Department of Labor with a record flood of unemployment claims.

All that instant joblessness is greeted by one small bit of good news: Kansas appears to have squirreled enough money away to cover the surge in unemployment claims for nearly a year.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

The number of Kansans affected by coronavirus-related work disruptions keeps growing.

Restaurants, businesses and city facilities across the state are adjusting to government restrictions to keep the virus from spreading. That means temporary closings, canceled events and reduced business hours — all changes that directly affect employees.

Over the last five years, almost 15,000 workers disappeared from the Kansas workforce.

During the same timeframe, the state is growing economically, with a recent monthly report showing 14,000 jobs created in the last year and unemployment at 3.3%. That’s below the national rate. 

Despite the good news, Kansas officials see a long-term challenge: having enough employees to fill the state’s jobs, especially in high-demand careers like nursing and accounting.

Updated Thursday, 7 a.m.

The Wyandotte County District Attorney's office says only rides at Schlitterbahn which are found to be in compliance with state regulations will be operated. 

The county DA's statement says it will help ensure rides will come into compliance with state laws before they open for the public. The Kansas Department of Labor will perform inspections and rides will be put into operation as they are cleared.  

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An audit from the Kansas Department of Labor alleges dozens of safety violations at Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. 

Auditors, who toured the park earlier this month, cite 147 items they say need immediate action on 11 of Schlitterbahn's water rides. The violations include incomplete training and operating manuals, unavailable records and inadequate safety signage.

Flazingo Photos / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in August, an increase of two-tenths of a percent from July.

The unemployment rate in August 2016 was 4.3 percent.

The department said Friday the increased unemployment was related mostly to manufacturing layoffs and revised government job estimates.

Economist Emilie Doerksen said nonfarm employment grew by 800 jobs last month and the service-providing sector added nearly 2,000 jobs. But that was offset by temporary layoffs in manufacturing and decreased government job estimates.

neetalparekh / flickr Creative Commons

A new report shows Kansas lost thousands of jobs between October and November.

Esther Max / flickr Creative Commons

A new report says the number of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in Kansas fell in 2015.

Data from the state Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there were approximately 28 thousand injuries and illnesses on the job in Kansas last year. That number fell from more than 32 thousand the year before.

The industries with the highest number of occupational injuries and illnesses were nursing and residential care facilities, crop production, and animal production.

Kansas Department of Labor

The latest jobs report for Kansas is a mixed bag.

Kansas’ unemployment rate fell slightly for the second month in a row, but the state Department of Labor says job growth has stalled.

According to a report released Friday, the unemployment rate for April was 3.8 percent, down from March's rate of 3.9 percent. It’s also down from April of last year, which was 4.2 percent.

Locally, Sedgwick County’s unemployment rate dropped sharply, from 4.6 in March to 3.9 in April.

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