Wichita Employment Situation, December 2023


For the Wichita metropolitan area in December 2023, major employment indicators declined from the prior month, and the unemployment rate also fell. 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 declining employment situation in the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area for December 2023.

Table 1: Comparing December 2023 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 fell from 2.7 percent to 2.4 percent.

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

I asked ChatGPT about this table:

For December 2023, compared to December 2022, in the Wichita Metropolitan Area:

  • The labor force, which includes people working or looking for work, decreased by 3,956 people, a 1.2% drop. This means slightly fewer people were either working or actively seeking employment.
  • The number of unemployed persons, those actively seeking but not finding work, fell by 1,027, marking an 11.8% decrease. This indicates that fewer people were without jobs and looking for work.
  • The unemployment rate, the percentage of the labor force that is not employed but seeking employment, decreased from 2.7% to 2.4%, a reduction of 0.3 percentage points or an 11.1% decrease. This suggests a slight improvement in job availability or a reduction in the number of people looking for work.
  • Nonfarm employment, which counts jobs in the area excluding farm workers, self-employed, and private household employees, saw a small increase of 300 jobs, a growth of 0.1%. This indicates a slight growth in employment opportunities in sectors other than farming.

In plain language, the Wichita Metropolitan Area saw a small decrease in the number of people working or looking for work in December 2023 compared to December 2022. However, there were fewer unemployed people, and the unemployment rate slightly improved, indicating a bit better job market. There was also a tiny increase in the number of jobs available outside of farming.

Table 2: Looking at December 2023 and the previous two months using smoothed seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force fell and the number of employed people fell. The unemployment rate fell to 3.1 percent.

I asked ChatGPT about this table:

In the Wichita Metropolitan Area, over the three months from October to December 2023, the employment situation showed slight changes:

  • Labor Force: The number of people either working or actively looking for work decreased gradually. From October to November, there was a small decrease of 606 people (-0.2%), and from November to December, the decrease was slightly larger at 1,221 people (-0.4%). This suggests a slight reduction in the workforce or fewer people seeking employment over these months.

  • Unemployed Persons: The number of people who were actively looking for work but couldn’t find any also decreased. There was a drop of 167 people (-1.6%) from October to November, and a further reduction of 208 people (-2.0%) from November to December. This indicates a gradual improvement in the number of people finding work or fewer people being classified as actively seeking employment.

  • Unemployment Rate: Despite these changes, the unemployment rate remained stable at 3.2% from October to November and then slightly decreased to 3.1% by December. The overall change from November to December was a minor decrease of 0.1 percentage points (-3.1%), showing a marginal improvement in employment conditions.

  • Nonfarm Employment: The number of jobs available (excluding farm workers, self-employed, and private household employees) also saw a decline. There was a decrease of 439 jobs (-0.1%) from October to November, followed by a larger drop of 1,013 jobs (-0.3%) from November to December. This suggests a slight contraction in job availability in the area over these months.

In simple terms, over the last quarter of 2023, the Wichita Metropolitan Area experienced a small decrease in both the labor force and the number of unemployed persons, indicating a slight improvement in the job market. However, the number of available jobs also decreased, suggesting that while fewer people were looking for work, there were also slightly fewer jobs available.

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 the direction of change on a primarily downward path since March, except for two months.

As of December 2023, the Wichita MSA had 370 (0.1 percent) fewer jobs than in February 2020, the last full month before the start of the pandemic, and 40,423 (15.0 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 900 jobs (0.3 percent) since before the start of the pandemic, and a gain of 43,500 (16.4 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 is becoming smaller and is now negative.

Chart 6a shows changes in employment from the same month of the previous year for Wichita and the nation. For the most recent nine months, Wichita’s number is smaller than the nation’s, meaning growth of jobs in Wichita has been slower.

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

Chart 7 shows employment change for Wichita and a select group of peers over a period of nearly 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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