The unemployment rate in Kansas hit a milestone in its slow decline from nearly 7 percent over the last few years. Seasonally adjusted, the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent from 5.1 percent in November. It’s also down from 5.5 percent in December 2012. “The state’s unemployment rate continued its descent, dropping below 5 percent for the first time since 2008,” said Lana Gordon, Kansas Secretary of Labor. “For the second consecutive year, Kansas saw over the year growth of more than 10,000 jobs. This is all good news for Kansans.” However, there were a few warning signs mixed in with the lower unemployment numbers. Although the state gained more than 10,000 seasonally adjusted private sector jobs (an increase of nearly 1 percent) since December 2012, the data also showed a loss of about 5,500 private sector jobs and 7,400 nonfarm jobs, a decline of 0.5 percent from November to December 2013. Not seasonally adjusted, the state lost about 6,300 private sector jobs and 8,400 nonfarm jobs from November to December. Not seasonally adjusted, the unemployment rate ticked upward to 4.5 percent from 4.4 percent in November, but down from 5.2 percent the year before. “Over the year, professional and business services, financial activities, and the education and health services industries accounted for about 81 percent of the 10,000 nonfarm jobs gained. We observed consistently positive over-the-year gains in nonfarm employment in these industries throughout 2013,” said Efua Afful, KDOL labor economist. The warning signs were also visible in the initial and continued claims category. There were 19,749 initial unemployment claims in Dec. 2013, up from Nov. 2013’s 12,914, yet still down from 20,353 in Dec. 2012. The continued claims saw a big jump from November’s numbers. In November, the continued claims were near 89,500. The December 2013 figures showed 124,370 continued claims. However, just like the initial claims, that’s still a far cry from December 2012’s 163,201. Statewide, there are no longer any counties with an unemployment rate over 7.0, and several area counties are even below 5.0 percent. Bourbon and Crawford counties rose slightly to 4.4 and 4.8 percent unemployment, respectively, although those numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Cherokee County comes in at 5.4 percent, unchanged from November 2013.