By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
FAIRWAY – Ghosts of Twinkies past are starting to show up in Kansas jobless numbers.
Kansas’ unemployment rate dipped 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 5.4 percent during November, the Kansas Department of Labor reported Thursday. That’s one full percentage point lower than a year ago.
But separate numbers, without the seasonal adjustments, showed that unemployment increased in 15 of 19 of Kansas’ largest communities the department also surveys. One of them is Emporia, where local unemployment rates increased to 5 percent from 4.6 percent a month earlier, just as Hostess Brands Inc. closed its Emporia Twinkies plant and ended jobs for 500 workers there.
How many of those workers showed up in the Kansas report isn’t clear, said Rob Catlett, director of Emporia State University’s Centers for Economic Education and Community Research.
“Some might have, but we definitely will see the effects in the December report,” Catlett said. That report is due in about four weeks.
Labor statisticians usually survey Emporia and other cities’ job markets in the middle of the month, typically around the 13th, Catlett said.
That makes gauging what Emporians call the Dolly people — because of their link to Dolly Madison snack cakes also manufactured there — tricky. Hostess began laying off workers Nov. 5, and closed the plant entirely Nov. 22, according to Emporia Gazette accounts.
Some of those workers probably showed up in the latest numbers.
“We can’t disclose information about individual companies, but I can tell you that unemployment claims doubled that month in Emporia,” said Inayat Noormohmad, a senior labor economist at the Kansas department.
Otherwise, it’s difficult to draw trend month-to-month comparisons for smaller communities, Noormohmad said. Samples are small and the department does not adjust the reported numbers for seasonal hiring changes.
“Look at a year ago,” he suggested. “Most of those areas have improved since then.”
Contact Gene Meyer at gene,firstname.lastname@example.org