Wichita employment situation, May 2021

For the Wichita metropolitan area in May 2021, the number of unemployed persons is down, the unemployment rate is down, and the number of people working is up when compared to the same month one year ago. The recent trend is exhibiting only small changes.

Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a mixed employment situation in the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area for May 2021.

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

Total nonfarm employment rose from 275,000 in April May to 290,700 in May 2021, a gain of 15,700 jobs (5.7 percent). (This data is not seasonally adjusted, so month-to-month comparisons are not valid.) For the same period, employment in the nation rose by 9.0 percent. The unemployment rate in May 2021 was 5.1 percent, down from 13.4 percent the same month one year prior.

Considering seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force rose by 274 persons (0.1 percent) in May 2021 from April 2021, the number of unemployed persons fell by 198 (1.2 percent), and the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, down from 5.4 percent in April. The number of employed persons not working on farms rose to 303,635 in April from 303,163 the prior month, an increase of 472 persons (0.2 percent).

To learn more about this data and what the employer and household surveys measure, see Visualization: Employment measures. Also, see Counting jobs in Wichita.

The following chart of the monthly change in the labor force and employment in Wichita shows the magnitude of the drop in employment in May 2020 overwhelming other months, and then both positive and negative changes in employment for the following months. The rate of change is generally small except for October. The number of people in the labor force has both grown and shrank.

Wichita has 5,226 fewer jobs (1.7 percent) than in the month before the start of the pandemic.

The following chart of changes from the same month one year ago shows a similar trend — fewer jobs, although the difference has become smaller as more people return to work. For April and May 2021 the difference is largest, as April 2020 was the low point since the start of the pandemic.

The following chart of changes in employment from the same month of the previous year shows the Wichita MSA has mostly tracked the trend of the nation since the pandemic. Since November 2020, however, the recovery in Wichita has been notably slower than for the nation

The following chart shows the monthly change in nonfarm jobs for Wichita and the nation. Since September, the changes have been relatively small, with both gains and losses. The relatively large gain of 2,600 jobs in March was nearly canceled by the loss of 2,400 in April.

The following two charts show changes in jobs for Wichita and the nation over longer periods. The change is calculated from the same month of the previous year. For times when the Wichita line was above the nation, Wichita was growing faster than the nation. This was often the case during the decades starting in 1990 and 2000. Since 2010, however, Wichita has only occasionally outperformed the nation and sometimes has been far below the nation.

(For data on all metropolitan areas in the nation, see my interactive visualization Metro area employment and unemployment. It is updated through May 2021.)

The link to the archived version of the BLS news release for this month may be found here.

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