Wichita Employment Situation, February 2024


For the Wichita metropolitan area in February 2024, most employment indicators changed only slightly from the prior month, and the unemployment rate did not change. Wichita continues to perform poorly compared to its peers.

Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows a mostly unchanged situation in the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area for February 2024.

Table 1: Comparing February 2024 to the same month of the previous year using not seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force fell, and nonfarm employment rose. The unemployment rate remained at 3.2 percent.

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

I asked ChatGPT about this table:

In February 2024, the Wichita Metropolitan Area saw some interesting trends in employment and labor force metrics compared to February 2023. Here’s a straightforward breakdown:

  • Labor Force: The total number of people either working or actively looking for work slightly decreased by 832 people from February 2023 to February 2024, marking a minor decline of 0.3%. This suggests a slight shrinkage in the number of individuals participating in the job market.

  • Unemployed Persons: There was an increase in the number of people without jobs but looking for work, rising by 567 individuals, or 5.3%, to reach 11,172 in February 2024. This indicates more people were seeking employment but couldn’t find work in February 2024 compared to the same month in the previous year.

  • Unemployment Rate: The percentage of the labor force that was unemployed and actively looking for work increased from 3.3% in February 2023 to 3.5% in February 2024. The rise of 0.2 percentage points, or 6.1%, shows a slight worsening in unemployment, meaning a higher proportion of the labor force was unable to find work.

  • Nonfarm Employment: Interestingly, while there was an increase in unemployed persons, the number of jobs (excluding farms, private households, nonprofit organizations, and government) actually grew by 3,300 jobs, or 1.1%, to 312,700 in February 2024. This suggests that despite the increase in people looking for jobs, employment opportunities in the area also increased.

In plain terms, even though more people were looking for jobs in February 2024 compared to February 2023, there were also more jobs available. However, the slight increase in the unemployment rate indicates that the growth in jobs was not enough to absorb the increase in people looking for work, leading to a slightly higher proportion of unemployed individuals in the labor force.

Table 2: Looking at February 2024 and the previous two months using smoothed seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force rose and the number of employed people also rose. The unemployment rate was unchanged.

I asked ChatGPT about this table:

For February 2024, in the Wichita Metropolitan Area, the data shows slight changes in the employment landscape, particularly when comparing month-to-month changes from December 2023 to February 2024. Here’s a breakdown in simple terms:

  • Labor Force: There was a slight increase in the number of people in the labor force, which includes those who are working or actively looking for work. From January to February 2024, the labor force grew by 251 individuals, a 0.1% increase. This suggests a small but positive movement of more people either finding work or starting to look for work.

  • Unemployed Persons: The number of unemployed individuals, those who are actively looking for work but unable to find it, rose slightly by 114 people, or 1.2%, from January to February 2024. This indicates that despite a growing labor force, not everyone entering or re-entering the job market was able to find work immediately.

  • Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.1% over the three months from December 2023 to February 2024. Despite the small fluctuations in the number of unemployed persons and the labor force size, these changes were not significant enough to alter the overall unemployment rate, suggesting a stable job market.

  • Nonfarm Employment: The number of jobs in sectors excluding farms, private households, nonprofit organizations, and the government—referred to as nonfarm employment—also saw a minor increase. From January to February 2024, there were 137 more jobs, marking a 0.0% change, rounded to the nearest tenth. This slight growth in employment opportunities contributes to the overall stability of the job market.

In summary, February 2024 in the Wichita Metropolitan Area was characterized by minor increases in both the labor force and nonfarm employment, alongside a slight rise in the number of unemployed persons. Despite these small shifts, the unemployment rate remained unchanged, indicating a stable employment situation. Essentially, more people were entering the job market, and there were slightly more jobs available, but not enough to significantly change the rate of unemployment.

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

Chart 3a, the monthly change in the labor force and employment in Wichita, shows both gains and losses, with a positive trend for the most recent two months.

As of February 2024, the Wichita MSA had 115 (0.0 percent) fewer jobs than in February 2020, the last full month before the start of the pandemic, and 40,678 (15.1 percent) more jobs than in April 2020, the first month after the beginning of the pandemic. These figures are from the smoothed seasonally adjusted series. The regular seasonally adjusted data is somewhat different, showing a gain of 6,400 jobs (2.1 percent) since before the start of the pandemic, and a gain of 49,700 (18.8 percent) after the pandemic.

Chart 3b, showing changes in labor force and employment from the same month one year ago, shows Wichita having more jobs than the year before in nearly every month, although the number has become smaller and has been negative for the last four months.

Chart 6a shows changes in employment from the same month of the previous year for Wichita and the nation. The two trendlines are very close.

Chart 8 shows the unemployment rate for Wichita and the nation. The rate for Wichita is almost always lower by small amounts.

Chart 7 shows employment change for Wichita and a select group of peers over a period of four years. The metropolitan areas in this chart are near Wichita or that Wichita business leaders visited on learning expeditions. The number of jobs in Wichita is practically unchanged. It is also below most of these peers.

Chart 8 shows changes over the month and year. In this measure, like the previous, Wichita is below nearly all of its peers.

Charts 4a and 4b 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.)

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


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