Counting jobs in Kansas

Since the pandemic, has the employment situation in Kansas recovered?

There is more than one way to evaluate jobs and employment. Depending on the method, Kansas has either recovered from the pandemic or is still behind.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, publishes two series of employment data that are widely followed.

The Current Population Survey (CPS), counts people who are working and those who are not. It is commonly referred to as the household survey. The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program counts jobs at employers. It is commonly referred to as the employer survey. There are important differences between the two, such as persons being counted as employed once even though they may hold multiple jobs. That’s in the household survey. In the employer survey, a person with two jobs is counted twice.

There are other differences. My article Visualization: Employment measures explains and offers examples of the differences.

The differences between the two surveys can be significant. The nearby table shows data from February and April 2020 and July 2021, which is the most current data for states. February 2020 was the last complete month not affected by the pandemic, and April 2020 was the first month after the response to the pandemic.

Click for larger.

Based on the employer survey counting jobs, Kansas has 46,600 fewer jobs now than February 2020. But counting working people from the household survey, 6,306 more people are working now than before the pandemic. Both measures are significantly higher than April 2020.

Which is the correct answer? Neither of these views is incorrect. They’re just looking at different things. See Counting jobs in Kansas for a look at how two organizations used these numbers.

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