The unemployment rate for McPherson County jumped half a point to 5.4 percent in August but remains well below regional, state and nationwide levels, according to data provided by the McPherson Industrial Development Company and U.S. Department of Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The unemployment rate for McPherson County jumped half a point to 5.4 percent in August but remains well below regional, state and nationwide levels, according to data provided by the McPherson Industrial Development Company and U.S. Department of Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nine hundred fifteen of the county’s 16,889 person workforce reported they were out of work in August, 94 more than in July.
County-based unemployment data reports on the employment status of McPherson County residents regardless of where they work. As such, someone living in Lindsborg working in Salina would count toward McPherson County statistics while one living in Salina and working in Lindsborg would not. As such, regional tabulations of contiguous counties paint a more accurate picture than do individual counties.
All counties adjacent to McPherson saw unemployment increases as well. Unemployment rates in neighboring counties were 7.4 percent in Harvey County, 6.5 percent in Marion County, 6.4 percent in Reno County, 5.6 percent in Rice County and 6.5 percent in Saline County.
When averaged as a region, the six contiguous counties had a 6.2 percent unemployment rate for August. That’s a high for 2011 and marks a steady increase since falling to 5.3 percent in April of this year. As a single county, McPherson was 0.8 percent below that regional average for August and has maintained an unemployment rate below that of the region through 2011, averaging 0.8 percent lower than aggregate county rates.
State increases were more modest. Kansas saw an uptick of 0.2 percent into August to rest at 6.7 percent for the month, 1.3 percent higher than McPherson County.
The national rate was 3.7 percent higher than McPherson County, holding steady at 9.1 percent for a second consecutive month.
Historic trends suggest McPherson County enjoys modest decreases in unemployment rates from July to August in most years, with the last increase occurring in 2006. The only other such jump in the past 10 years occurred in 2003, and both increases were of 0.5 percent.
On the year, unemployment rates remain equal with their year-start levels. After starting 2011 with at 5.4 percent, rates consistently dipped through April, falling to 4.4 percent before slowly climbing back up through August. The current rate rests 1.1 percent below McPherson County’s 10 year high of 6.5 percent experienced in January 2010.
While regional unemployment numbers suggest a general slowing of the area’s economic recovery, other state indicators suggest continuing, if modest, growth. Total non-farm employment numbers for Kansas improved for a second straight month in August, adding 6,000 new jobs. After falling steeply in February, growth stands at 6,700 for the year and  10,600 since the indicator stumbled in June.
Greatest growth was seen in professional and business services, a sector that added 2,800 jobs in August. Leisure and hospitality, government and manufacturing all gained 1,700 each. The largest loss of jobs was in trade, transportation and utilities which lost a total of 1,400 jobs.