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The state’s unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent in December, according to the latest figures from the Kansas Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s down slightly from November and down from 4.3 percent in December 2016.

“Employers continue to demand valuable Kansas labor as jobs, hours worked, and real earnings increased over the year,” state Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said in a statement.

Private sector jobs increased by more than 5,200 in December, the majority of them in the leisure and hospitality industry.

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Kansas' former education commissioner is hoping to bridge the divide between how schools teach and what businesses need from their workers.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Diane DeBacker was appointed late last year to the new executive director of business and education innovation position at the Kansas Department of Commerce. Her job is meant to bring education voices into the department.

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Kansas has more people working than ever before, the Kansas Department of Labor said Friday.

There are more than 1.4 million people employed in Kansas, according to data from November. The state has gained nearly 3,000 jobs in the last 12 months, mostly from construction, and professional and business services.

The unemployment rate for Kansas was 3.5 percent in November. That is down slightly from October and down from 4.3 percent in November 2016.

The unemployment rate for the Wichita area and Sedgwick County was 3.7 percent.


U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service is hiring for seasonal and temporary openings in Kansas and four other states.

More than 900 jobs are available next year at national forests and grasslands.

The jobs include a variety of duties including firefighting, wildlife management, timber, recreation, trails, archeology, hydrology, botany, range, fisheries, forestry and administrative support. Firefighting work includes engine, helitack, hotshot, fuels, handcrew, prevention, airtanker base, and dispatch activities.

Traditionally, most university Spanish degrees have focused on literature and culture. One college in Wichita has changed its Spanish language program to meet a growing demand for interpreters and translators.

When Jerry Smartt was studying for her four Spanish degrees, the focus was on literature and culture.

"I have an entire wall in my office that is nothing but my best friends, which are my books," she says.

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The employment forecast for the Wichita area shows little to no job growth in 2018.

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The Kansas Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in August, an increase of two-tenths of a percent from July.

The unemployment rate in August 2016 was 4.3 percent.

The department said Friday the increased unemployment was related mostly to manufacturing layoffs and revised government job estimates.

Economist Emilie Doerksen said nonfarm employment grew by 800 jobs last month and the service-providing sector added nearly 2,000 jobs. But that was offset by temporary layoffs in manufacturing and decreased government job estimates.

Courtesy photo

Wichita's largest annual job fair will take place on Thursday at Intrust Bank Arena.

The Get Hired Job Fair will connect employers from across Kansas with veterans, military and general job seekers.

Angie Duntz with the Wichita Work Force Alliance says up to 70 employers will be there.

“There will be companies hiring from manufacturing to hourly jobs," Duntz says. "A couple of health care industries will be there, as well as Wichita Public Schools.”

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Westar Energy on Tuesday celebrated the completion of its new training site in Wichita where high school and technical school students can explore careers in the electrical industry.

Pratt Community College students showed off their climbing skills, going up and down practice electrical poles with special boots equipped with steel shanks.

The unemployment rate remains low in Kansas, but the state has been shedding private sector jobs in recent months.

Numbers from the Kansas Department of Labor show private sector jobs were climbing from January to March. But according to a new monthly report, the state began losing private sector jobs -- more than 11,000 of them from March to June.

Manufacturing jobs fell over that period, but not nearly as much as service sector jobs. The area that sagged the most includes the support jobs for organizations, such as office administration, personnel services and cleaning.