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    May 2014

Recent employment
data defies logic

The slow pace of employment growth continues for Kansas City, as the region has added 2,500 jobs since January. Logic tells us that an increase in employment will lead to a decrease in the unemployment rate …except when it doesn’t.

Welcome to the sometimes bizzare world of labor market data.

While Kansas City has seen steady, albeit slow, increases in employment this year, our unemployment rate has climbed, not fallen. Here is an attempt to put explain this phenonmenon and, as is our custom, look for a silver lining in this data cloud.

For the unemployment rate to increase, there has to be an increase in the labor force. And that is exactly what we have. After years of seeing our labor force stagnant or declining, we have experienced an increase of 9,000 labor force participants so far this year. So, we have more jobs, but we also have more people looking for those jobs — thus the higher employment AND the higher unemployment rate.

Now for the silver lining. Employment has been increasing, more or less steadily, since 2010. Until recently, our unemployment rate had been down as low as 5.8 percent. This improving situation has likely prompted a number of people who had left the workforce to re-enter. Additionally, unemployment benefits ended for nearly 2 million Americans at the end of 2013. This, undoubtedly, encouraged still more people to re-enter the workforce.

The current pace of job creation is still far too weak to accommodate both new entrants into the local workforce and those who are suddenly re-entering it. So we may be in for a long stretch where our improving employment numbers are accompanied by increasing unemployment rates.

Kansas City is not alone in this phenomenon; half of our peer metros saw their unemployment rates either stall or increase over the past month.

In other labor market news, regional want ads hit a three-year high, with nearly 18,000 unique ads in March.

Upcoming Events

RWIN Meeting
July 2, 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 continues to edge up slowly. The region has 9,000 more jobs than one year ago.

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

After declining steadily throughout 2013, the regional unemployment rate has climbed in 2014 and now stands at 6.3 percent.

After many months in the middle of the pack, Kansas City's unemployment rate moved toward the high end among peer metros.

Regional want ads hit a three-year high in March, with nearly 18,000 unique ads.

Source: WANTED Analytics

Employment by Industry infographic for March 2014

Where the early birds are

What time do you start work every day? Are you an early bird who gets to work in time to see the sunrise? Or, do you take a more leisurely approach to your work day and arrive after the morning rush hour? Well, according to Nate Silver at 538 blog, we Kansas Citians start our workday at 7:51 a.m. Silver used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to calculate a median start time for workdays in 40 metros.

We are on the early side of the national average of 7:55 a.m. Houston and Phoenix were two large metros who start work earlier than us, but just barely (both start at 7:45 a.m.).

On the other end of the scale, the late-start metros tend to be located on the coasts. In Boston, the average workday starts at 8:11 a.m.  In San Jose, it’s 8:21. And finally, if the snooze button is your best friend, then New York is the place for you. There, a typical workday doesn’t start until 8:24.

Health Care Workforce Report

A special RWIN report on the state of the Health Care Workforce in Greater Kansas City is now available online.

Follow us on Twitter

Interested in more about KC's economy? Follow @KCEconomy on Twitter to get the latest information on regional economic data.



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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