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    March 2014

Revised employment data looks good for KC

At the start of every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics goes over the previous year’s data and makes revisions as needed. This is a valuable service, since we always want the most accurate data to paint the right picture of Kanas City’s workforce. However, the revision means that data is delayed at the start of the year; although we are now into spring, the latest data reflects Kansas City’s employment picture in January.

Seasonally adjusted employment was up by 8,700 from a year ago and up 4,500 from the prior month. Employment by industry data, shown in the graphic below (click for a larger view), is not seasonally adjusted, but it still tells us which industries are growing. Currently, employment growth is fairly well distributed across industries, with education and health services seeing the most growth, followed by professional business services. Declines were seen in leisure and hospitality, financial services, and retail.

The 300-job decline in retail is much smaller than last year, when we were puzzled by sharp declines in retail employment in Kansas City. The original December data showed a decline in retail employment of 4,800. The revised data shows that the decline was not as deep as we thought.

Kansas City’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate starts 2014 at 5.7 percent. This remains towards the lower end when compared to our peers. After seeing sharp declines at the end of 2013, want ads rebounded strongly in January to more than 15,000 unique want ads.

The delay in BLS data is temporary. It will catch up at a rapid pace over the next few months. Watch for updates in our next newsletter.

Upcoming Events

RWIN Meeting
May 7, 10 a.m.
MARC Conference Center

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 kcworkforce.com.



[The number of people currently employed full or part time. It is not a count of jobs, as an employed person may have more than one job. Current Employment Statistics data.]

Employment started the year at 1,011,500, up by 8,700 from one year ago.

[The number of unemployed as a percent of the total labor force.]

The January 2014 unemployment rate held steady at 5.7 percent, down from 6.4 percent at this time last year.

Kansas City's unemployment rate remains in the lower half of our peer metro group.

After dropping toward the end of 2013, job postings rebounded to 15,521 unique postings in January.

Source: WANTED Analytics

The Case of the Disappearing Labor Force

Now that we are nearly five years removed from the end of the great recession, we can see the economy starting to return to normal. But one big question remains: what happened to the labor force?

Ben Casselman posted an excellent synopsis of the labor force question on the newly expanded FiveThirtyEight blog.

In summary, the labor force story is this: just 62.8 percent of the adult population in the U.S. is currently in the labor force — currently working or actively looking for work. This is down from 66 percent at the end of 2007, when the recession began. In fact, 62.8 is the lowest labor force participation rate since the 1970s. If today’s labor force were at the pre-recession participation rate of 66 percent, we would have an additional 8 million more people in the labor force nationwide. So where did they go?

This question is difficult to answer because we have a couple of unique factors affecting the labor force today. Read more at kceconomy»

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Mid-America Regional Council | 600 Broadway, Suite 200 | Kansas City, MO 64105 | Ph. 816-474-4240 | marcinfo@marc.org
Data sources: Kansas Department of Labor, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), The Conference Board and Wanted Analytics.
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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