The state’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in August, although it remains more than twice as high as it was at this point in 2019, according to data released Friday by the Kansas Department of Labor and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.


As the state’s economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate fell to 6.9% in August, down from 7.2% in July and almost half of the 12% rate in April at the peak of the pandemic.


KDOL officials touted a fourth straight month of job growth in a news release but acknowledged there was work left to bring the state back up to its pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.1%.


"Data for August demonstrates continued progress in Kansas with the unemployment rate and job growth moving in the right direction," said Acting Secretary Ryan Wright. "While we have seen continued improvement, KDOL remains committed to serving our claimants' needs during this time as more than 96,000 individuals received unemployment insurance benefits in August."


While Kansas’ unemployment rate is slightly ahead of Missouri’s 7% rate, it lags behind neighbors Oklahoma and Nebraska, which has the lowest unemployment in the country.


Relief is coming for out-of-work Kansans in the form of the Lost Wages Assistance Program, the assistance program announced last month by President Donald Trump to aid some unemployed residents.


The program, which will give Kansans already receiving unemployment benefits an additional $300 per-week in benefits, will only be applied retroactively from the week ending Aug. 1 through the week ending Sep. 5.


KDOL will receive $50 million in federal CARES Act funding to help build out the infrastructure for the program under a plan approved by the State Finance Council Thursday.


Kansans are expected to be able to apply for the Lost Wages benefits starting later this month, and the state is working to notify those who are eligible, KDOL spokesperson Jerry Grasso said in an email earlier this week.