Unemployment numbers drop to four-year low as Kansas City's jobless head back to work

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Unemployment numbers have dropped to a new low for the first time in four years.

Nationwide, 146,000 jobs were added, nearly doubling expected numbers.

For local job seekers like Donald Sutherland, that is good news.

Sutherland worked in construction for nearly 10 years.

"As most of the economy started taking a toll, layoffs became a bit longer, and eventually, I became a 99-weeker captain," Sutherland said.

At that point, Sutherland decided it was time to head back to school.

"I decided I had to do something. I just had to pick up the pieces and move on to a new career."

Nursing was the new career of Sutherland's choice.

While it was a good change, he said with the change also came the reality that he was one of the thousands of unemployed workers hoping to eventually land a job.

"You can start to get kind of depressed after a while. You get all the education, and it's just not coming to me as easy as I had hoped, but these are different times," Sutherland said.

Recent job numbers released show positive signs for Sutherland and other unemployed workers.

The unemployment rate has fallen from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent. That is the lowest rate the nation has seen in four years.

The Kansas City area's unemployment rate remains around 6.2 percent.

Sutherland said he is not surprised at the drop, especially because after nearly three years and a new degree, he is finally no longer unemployed and starts his new job next week.

"I'm very blessed, especially this time of year. I've got a little kid at home that's looking forward to a big Christmas, and I didn't want to let him down. It's a good way to start off a new year too. I feel like a big load is off my shoulders now," Sutherland said.

Economists said it could still take several years for unemployment to drop to the 5 to 6 percent range.

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