Kansas sees 'series high' unemployment, Wichita worse due to struggling aviation industry

The Wichita area is seeing a higher rate in employment than elsewhere in Kansas due to the aerospace industry's struggles even before the pandemic.

PHOTO: Unemployment claim form, Photo Date: April 2014 (Source: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)

The unemployment rate in Wichita is 18.7% -- twice as high as what it was during the Great Recession in 2008, according to the Kansas Department of Labor.

"A lot of here in Wichita, I mean we were already getting laid off, especially contractors because of the 737 MAX crisis," Blake Crawford, an aerospace quality inspector for Boeing said. "So it's a double whammy definitely for Boeing, Spirit, and just aviation in general here to really boost those numbers of unemployment that are already pretty high."

The Kansas unemployment rate in April was 11.2%, according to the Kansas Department of Labor.

That number increased from 2.8% from March, before the state was under a stay-at-home order.

“The unemployment rate in Kansas increased significantly from a historical low of 2.8 percent in March to a series high of 11.2 percent in April as workers across Kansas felt the effects of COVID-19 on the labor market,” said Kansas Labor Secretary Delía García in a release.

Total Kansas nonfarm jobs decreased by 130,400 from March with seasonal adjusted job estimates. Private sector jobs decreased by 121,600 and government jobs by 8,800.

“April estimates reflect the impact of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Job estimates fell by 130,400 over the month with reductions in the number of jobs for all major sectors,” said Labor Economist Emilie Doerksen. “The leisure and hospitality sector saw a particularly sharp decline accounting for 50,200 out of the total decrease since March.”

In the past year, Kansas seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs have decreased by 133,200, with 125,500 of those being private-sector jobs, and 7,700 government jobs.

The national unemployment rate for April was 14.7%.