Wichita Employment Situation, May 2024

on

For the Wichita metropolitan area in May, most employment indicators changed only slightly from the prior month. 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 May 2024.

Table 1: Comparing May 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 rose to 3.1 percent.

Click charts and tables for larger versions.

I asked ChatGPT about this table:

The table presents employment data for the Wichita Metropolitan Area for April and May of 2023 and 2024, comparing changes between these years.

  • Labor Force: This represents the number of people either working or looking for work.
    • April: Increased from 67,964 in 2023 to 68,279 in 2024.
    • May: Decreased from 67,364 in 2023 to 67,207 in 2024.
  • Unemployed Persons: This indicates the number of people without a job but actively seeking employment.
    • April: Increased from 1,548 in 2023 to 1,786 in 2024.
    • May: Increased from 1,682 in 2023 to 2,051 in 2024.
  • Unemployment Rate: The percentage of the labor force that is unemployed.
    • April: Rose from 2.3% in 2023 to 2.6% in 2024.
    • May: Rose from 2.5% in 2023 to 3.1% in 2024.
  • Nonfarm Employment: Represents the number of jobs excluding farm work.
    • April: Increased from 311,700 in 2023 to 318,000 in 2024.
    • May: Increased from 312,400 in 2023 to 318,500 in 2024.

Analysis

For the month of May:

  • Labor Force: There was a slight decrease in the labor force, with 67,207 people in 2024 compared to 67,364 in 2023. This is a small decline of 0.2%, indicating relatively stable participation in the workforce.

  • Unemployed Persons: The number of unemployed persons saw a significant increase, rising from 1,682 in 2023 to 2,051 in 2024. This represents a 21.9% increase, suggesting more people are actively seeking jobs without success.

  • Unemployment Rate: Correspondingly, the unemployment rate increased from 2.5% in May 2023 to 3.1% in May 2024. This 0.6% rise (24.0% increase) highlights growing unemployment issues.

  • Nonfarm Employment: Despite the higher unemployment rate, nonfarm employment rose by 6,100 jobs (2.0%) from 312,400 in May 2023 to 318,500 in May 2024. This suggests that while there are more jobs available, they might not be accessible or suitable for all job seekers.

In summary, May 2024 shows a mixed picture: the overall number of jobs has increased, but so has unemployment, indicating potential mismatches in the job market or other barriers to employment.

Table 2: Looking at May 2024 and the previous two months using smoothed seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force was steady and the number of employed people fell slightly. The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent to 3.2 percent.

I asked ChatGPT about this table:

The table shows employment data for the Wichita Metropolitan Area over three months in 2024: March, April, and May. It highlights changes in the labor force, unemployed persons, unemployment rate, and nonfarm employment.

  • Labor Force: The number of people working or looking for work.
    • Increased slightly each month: from 322,774 in March to 323,322 in May, a modest rise of 0.1% each month.
  • Unemployed Persons: People without a job but actively seeking employment.
    • Rose from 9,710 in March to 10,424 in May, showing a 4.3% increase from April to May.
  • Unemployment Rate: The percentage of the labor force that is unemployed.
    • Increased marginally from 3.0% in March to 3.2% in May.
  • Nonfarm Employment: Jobs excluding farm work.
    • Remained relatively stable, with a slight decrease from 313,100 in April to 312,898 in May, a minor drop of 0.1%.

Analysis

For the month of May:

  • Labor Force: The labor force saw a small increase of 0.1%, indicating that more people were either employed or actively looking for work, rising from 323,093 in April to 323,322 in May.

  • Unemployed Persons: The number of unemployed persons grew by 431 from April to May, a 4.3% increase. This suggests a growing number of people seeking employment without success.

  • Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate edged up slightly from 3.1% in April to 3.2% in May. This small rise indicates a minor increase in unemployment in the area.

  • Nonfarm Employment: There was a small decline in nonfarm employment, dropping by 202 jobs from April to May. This 0.1% decrease suggests a slight reduction in job availability outside of the agricultural sector.

In summary, May 2024 shows a slight increase in the labor force and unemployment rate, with a modest rise in unemployed persons and a small decrease in nonfarm employment. This suggests a mixed employment situation with more people looking for work but a minor reduction in available jobs.

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 recent months except May.

As of May 2024, the Wichita MSA had 2,240 (0.7 percent) more jobs than in February 2020, the last full month before the start of the pandemic, and 43,953 (16.3 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 8,700 jobs (2.8 percent) since before the start of the pandemic, and a gain of 52,000 (19.6 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 is now slightly negative, meaning fewer jobs.

Chart 6a shows changes in employment from the same month of the previous year for Wichita and the nation. The two trendlines share a similar trend, which is slowly down.

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

Chart 7 shows employment change for Wichita and a select group of peers over a period of four years, starting just before the pandemic. 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 nearly 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. Of this chart, ChatGPT said:

For Wichita, KS:
– There is a slight monthly decline in employment (-0.1%).
– The annualized rate suggests a more significant potential yearly decrease (-1.2%).
– Compared to the same month last year, employment has decreased by 1.2%.

Wichita’s employment situation shows a negative trend with modest declines in both the short and long term, suggesting challenges in maintaining job growth compared to some other metropolitan areas.

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.

Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.