Kansas' unemployment rate dropped in November for a fourth consecutive month, but a labor official cautioned Friday that the job market remains weak.
The Kansas Department of Labor said the November jobless rate fell to 6.2 percent, down from a revised 6.3 percent in October. That's down from a high of 7.8 percent in July, but still higher than the 4.7 percent in November 2008.
Tyler Tenbrink of the labor department said job losses for the past 12 months remained "significant." Kansas has lost 60,100 jobs since November 2008, a 4.3 percent decline.
"This reminds us that we still have a ways to go before we see recovery in the job market, which remains weak, particularly in areas like manufacturing and professional and business services," Tenbrink said.
Four of 11 employment sectors reported gains in November, with trade, transportation and utilities leading the way.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose in November by 1,310 to 24,125 claims. That figure is 8,000 more than the number of claims filed in November 2008. Continuing claims were up 30,500 in November compared to October and 108,000 more than a year earlier.
Gov. Mark Parkinson said Thursday there are encouraging signs that the worst for Kansas may be over.
US Bank plans to add 1,100 jobs and $50 million in payroll through a new service center. JP Morgan's Retirement Plan Services is relocating 800 jobs from Kansas City, Mo., to the Sprint Nextel campus in Johnson County.
"I'm very optimistic because we have made it through this very challenging year. Not only are we still standing, we are at a point where we are prospering," Parkinson said. "We are starting to see the fruits of a lot of very hard work to bring jobs to the state."
Parkinson said Kansas was beginning to see a return of manufacturing jobs in 2009 with plans by firms to build components for wind energy turbines, which should provide additional employment into the future as the state and nation increase reliance on renewable sources.
The state and the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan. and Wyandotte County are negotiating with the medical software maker Cerner Corp. to build a $414 million complex that would include a stadium for Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. The state has assembled a $230 million incentive package to lure the project, which could mean as many as 9,000 jobs.
"There are signs that the economy is turning around. We have had the 100-year flood. We are now recovering from the 100-year flood," the governor said. "That will be a messy process. But it is a process that if we do it right we can not only recover, but we can lay the foundation for the future."