unemployment rate

STILWELL, Kansas — After Doug Reed put his elderly father’s Johnson County home up for sale, the mailbox started to fill up with letters from the Kansas Department of Labor, sometimes 25 or 30 at a time.

“We had two or three big batches of them, and they’ve been dribbling in ever since,” Reed said.

Within a couple weeks, about 130 letters had arrived, all bearing his father’s street address but addressed to different names.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

More and more Kansans who lost jobs because of the coronavirus are falling behind in their rent and mortgage payments.

As many as 40 million Americans – including 357,000 Kansans – face the risk of eviction in the next several months.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas Department of Labor has struggled to handle an explosion of unemployment filings.

That’s left 25,000 claims waiting for approval — and thousands of Kansans standing by for the checks that could help them stay afloat through a jobless stretch in an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

neetalparekh / flickr Creative Commons

Ryan Fox didn’t think he’d be on the list to get laid off after 20 years as an aircraft machinist.

Turns out, he says he was just three people short of surviving the cut.

Fox was one of 2,800 people laid off from Spirit AeroSystem in January after the company suspended production of the Boeing 737 MAX. Fox says Spirit’s recall policies, in which they randomly call workers back, have made other companies hesitant to hire him even with his extensive background.

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 — The economic shutdown driven by the COVID-19 outbreak put Sherri Calderwood out of work.

Then her job waiting tables opened up again.

But that opportunity came with a tough choice, one she shares with millions of other Americans: Somehow manage without a paycheck or risk her health earning a living.

Several years ago, she had a blood disease that required doctors to remove her spleen, a fist-sized organ that helps the body fight infection.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Local business leaders and health care experts are at odds over when — and how — Sedgwick County should begin to ease its coronavirus lockdown.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Protesters angry about the stay-at-home order in Kansas and the tens of thousands of people it’s tossed from work rallied at the state Capitol Thursday.

They clogged traffic on the four blocks that ring the Statehouse for more than an hour, honking on horns, calling out slogans on bullhorns and pressing Gov. Laura Kelly to reopen businesses in the state.

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.

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