PITTSBURG, Kan. — Kansas has recently ranked worst in the nation in its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study released Thursday by the Washington, D.C.-based finance website WalletHub.
The study looked at three metrics: the change in the number of initial unemployment insurance claims in the most recent week available compared to approximately the same week in 2019; change in the number of initial unemployment claims in the most recent week available compared to the week of January 1, 2020; and the change in the number of initial unemployment claims between mid-March and late October of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
Based on these three criteria, WalletHub ranked Kansas number 51 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. for having “recovered most since last week” — though the state only ranked 39th in terms of having “recovered most since [the] start of [the] COVID-19 crisis.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Kansas had 15,972 initial unemployment claims filed in the week ending Oct. 24, 2020, down from 17,547 the previous week — but more than 10 times the 1,316 initial claims filed in the week ending Oct. 26, 2019.
“The Kansas unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September,” Kansas Department of Labor Acting Secretary Ryan Wright said in a news release last month. “However, it is important to note that similar to national trends, the number of individuals participating in the labor force has also declined.”
The release accompanied the KDOL’s Labor Market Report for September. The report for October will not be released until Nov. 20.
“The widespread job growth seen in Kansas throughout the summer slowed in September, with losses in both the private sector and government jobs,” Labor Economist Emilie Doerksen said in the most recent release. “The majority of the over-the-month decrease in jobs can be attributed to government which added fewer jobs than the typical pattern for September, resulting in a seasonally adjusted decline.”
WalletHub’s unfavorable ranking of Kansas’ economic recovery comes even as the same report includes a finding that unemployment claims are recovering quickest in “red states.” The finance website designated states as red or blue based on how they voted in the 2016 election — though Kansas just reaffirmed its status as a red state this week with its majority votes for electing Roger Marshall to the US Senate and reelecting President Trump.