October 12, 2010
Experts call it one of the state's strongest signs of economic recovery in years. The number of open jobs is increasing in this new economy, but the state is still falling far short of where it was before the recession.
The Kansas Department of Labor just released new numbers showing there are three unemployed workers competing for each open job. Even though this statistic is proof the market remains tough, it is still a drastic improvement over results from the same survey conducted in 2009.
"The early part of recovery is usually the most miserable part," said Friends University Professor of Finance, Dr. Malcolm Harris, Sr.
That's why students about to get into the workforce are already working. Friends University student Caitlin Cassity is only a sophomore, but she already has a job.
"It was mostly for experience for the future. I got out and got it first thing when I became a college student," said Cassity.
That experience may be necessary, as a new survey from the state's Department of Labor still shows an extremely competitive job market.
"My students at Friends are going into the job market, the seniors, [at] one of the worst times in the last 20 or 30 years," said Harris.
In 2008, there was about one unemployed person for every opening. In 2009 that number jumped to four jobless workers for every vacancy. This year the figure has dropped to three unemployed to each open job.
"It is definitely a large change, and it's one of the strongest signs of progress we've seen in three years," said Harris.
The top five jobs to see growth across the state include nursing assistants, registered nurses, retail sales, cashiers, and truck drivers. But Wichita's dominant industry, aviation, is bracing for more layoffs. Experts say it's another sign the state is far from complete recovery.
"The early part of recovery is usually the most miserable part. And employment lags way behind the rest of the economy," said Harris.
It's something that makes younger job hopefuls grateful they have a few more years to stay in school.
"[I'm] not worrying about it just yet," said Cassity.
The latest Kansas job vacancy figures are from the second quarter of 2010. They also show South Central Kansas saw the largest boost in job openings, even though the region maintains a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the state.