• Kansas
  • Wichita
  • Topeka
  • Kansas City

Kansas Employment Forecast

Released October 4, 2018 (See previous version.)

Kansas total nonfarm employment declined by approximately 500 workers in 2017, a 0.1 percent decline from 2016, due to weak employment growth in most sectors and declines in the construction and retail sectors.  Despite the employment decline, the Kansas unemployment rate continued its post-2010 decline, reaching a new low of 3.6 percent, its lowest value since 1999.  Nationally, employment grew more robustly at 1.6 percent in 2017, and the national unemployment rate declined to 4.4 percent from 4.9 percent in 2016.

In Kansas, growth is expected to resume in 2018 with a 1.3 percent expansion in overall employment, which will add more than 17,000 new jobs to the economy.  That growth pattern is expected to continue into 2019 as employment grows at 1 percent, adding almost 14,000 jobs statewide.

  • The production sector is forecast to return to more robust growth in 2019 with 1.2 percent growth, after remaining flat in 2017.  The manufacturing sector was one of the bright spots in the 2017 Kansas economy, adding over 1,000 jobs.  That trend is projected to continue with 0.5 percent growth in 2019, which will add almost 800 new jobs to the sector. The natural resources and construction sector has declined by an average of 1,000 jobs in each of the past three years from 2015 to 2017, but in 2018 the sector is projected to grow 0.4 percent, followed by 3 percent growth in 2019, based on positive indicators in both the housing and the commercial real estate markets.
  • The trade, transportation, and utilities sector is expected to grow at 0.9 percent in 2019, adding more than 2,300 new jobs.  In recent years employment in the sector has shifted away from retail trade and into the transportation and warehousing sector.  This is in part a reflection of continued weakness in taxable retail sales in Kansas, which declined 2.4 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis in 2017, and also a reflection of Kansas’ growing importance as a transportation hub to the Midwest. While retail trade is forecast to grow 0.6 percent for 2019, the transportation, warehousing and subsector is projected to grow 1.9 percent and add more than 1,200 jobs.The wholesale trade sector is forecast to grow 0. 4 percent, reversing some of the modest job losses the sector has expected since 2016.
  • The service sectors are projected to lead employment growth for 2019, with a 1.3 percent expansion and more than 8,500 jobs added.  More than half of the total services employment growth is forecast to be in the professional and business services sector and the education and health services sector.  Professional and business services employment is expected to increase by more than 3,300 jobs, growing 1.8 percent as the fastest growing service sector in Kansas.   Education and health services are projected to recover from a slow-growth 2017 and add more than 2,400 jobs in 2019. The leisure and hospitality sector and financial activities sector are each expected to add more than 1,000 jobs, while the other services sector and information sector are each projected to decline by less than 300 jobs.
  • Employment in Kansas’ governmental sector is forecast to increase by more than 100 jobs in 2019, growing 0.1 percent.  This growth is expected to primarily be in the local government sector, which comprises the bulk of governmental employment in the state, while state and federal government employment remain relatively flat.
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Wichita Employment Forecast

Released October 4, 2018  (See previous version.)

Total nonfarm employment in the Wichita metropolitan area* declined by approximately 2,500 workers in 2017, a 0.8 percent contraction of the workforce, after the Wichita area had posted five consecutive years of job gains from 2012 through 2016.  The area experienced a sharper downturn in employment than occurred at the state level in 2017, following stronger than state-average employment growth for the Wichita area in 2015 and 2016.  The Wichita area’s unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent in 2017, the seventh consecutive year of decline in unemployment in the area.   

Wichita’s employment growth is expected to flatten in 2018, with a modest contraction of fewer than 200 jobs. In 2019, growth is projected to resume at 0.8 percent, adding almost 2,500 jobs, which would return the Wichita area to near its 2016 level of employment.

  • Wichita’s production sector declined in employment in both 2016 and 2017, collectively losing almost 700 jobs in that time, but positive growth is forecast in 2019 in both the manufacturing sector and natural resources and construction sector.  After five years of employment declines in the manufacturing sector, renewed local investment by major manufacturing firms will help encourage growth.  Manufacturing employment is expected to rise 0.3 percent in 2019, with growth in both the durable and non-durable manufacturing subsectors, adding more than 150 jobs in total.  The natural resources and construction sector is forecast to add more than 500 jobs in 2019, based on positive indicators in both residential and non-residential building permits in the area.  With its projected growth of 3.1 percent, the sector would add the most jobs in a single year since 2014.
  • Employment in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector declined by more than 1,300 jobs in 2017.  Job losses were concentrated in retail trade sector employment, which declined by more than 900 workers, as taxable retail sales in the Wichita area declined by 3.5 percent after adjusting for inflation.  In 2019, Wichita’s trade, transportation and utilities employment is expected to grow by 0.6 percent, creating almost 300 new jobs.  Taxable retail sales are also projected to rebound with growth of 0.4 percent.
  • The service sectors are projected to add more than 1,000 jobs in 2019, with a projected growth rate of 0.8 percent.  The leisure and hospitality sector and the professional and business services sector are forecast to be the fastest growing service sectors.  Leisure and hospitality employment is projected to grow 1.2 percent, which would be the sector’s eighth consecutive year of faster than average employment growth in the area.  Professional and business services are expected to recover some of their 2017 job losses in 2019, with more than 200 new jobs added.  The information sector is the only service sector projected to lose jobs in 2019, with a 0.1 percent contraction in employment.  Financial activities employment is forecast to gain less than 100 jobs, and education and health services employment is projected to expand 0.7 percent.
  • Wichita’s governmental sector employment is projected to increase by more than 400 jobs in 2019, for 1.1 percent growth.  Local government employment is forecast to add more than 300 jobs, while employment in the state government is expected to increase by approximately 150 workers.
 

*The Wichita metropolitan consists of Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, Kingman, and Sumner counties.

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Topeka Employment Forecast

Released October 4, 2018  (See previous version.)

 

The Topeka metropolitan area’s* total nonfarm employment declined by approximately 800 workers in 2017, a 0.7 percent contraction.  The contraction followed five years of employment growth from 2012 to 2016 when the Topeka area added 3,600 new jobs, growing an average of 0.7 percent.  The Topeka area has lagged behind the rate of employment growth statewide each year since 2011, with the exception of 2016, when Topeka grew 1.1 percent compared to Kansas’ state average of 0.3 percent.

Employment in the area is forecast to be relatively flat in 2018, with approximately 100 jobs lost.  In 2019, employment in the Topeka area is projected to grow by 0.3 percent, rebounding some from a sluggish 2017 by adding almost 300 new jobs overall to the local economy. 

  • The production sectors are projected to be the fastest-growing portion of the Topeka economy in 2019, with a projected growth rate of 1.2 percent and more than 150 jobs added.  The bulk of this growth is forecast to be in the natural resources and construction sector, which is expected to grow 2.5 percent in 2019, adding more than 100 jobs.  This would be the most jobs added in the sector since 2014.  The manufacturing sector is projected to have more muted growth, expanding 0.2 percent in 2019. Manufacturing in the Topeka area has added jobs each since 2013 and reached a ten year high in 2017 after adding 200 jobs.
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities sector employment is expected to decline by fewer than 100 jobs in 2019, a 0.4 percent decrease.  The sector has lost jobs in all but one of the last ten years in the Topeka area.  The declines have occurred in both wholesale and retail trade employment, as well as transportation and utilities employment.   

Taxable retail sales declined 2.6 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis in 2017, the first decline in retail sales since 2013.Retail sales are expected to recover and grow 0.4 percent after adjusting for inflation in 2019.

  • Employment in the service sector is projected to increase by 0.3 percent in 2019, creating almost 200 new jobs for the local economy.  Service sector employment experienced a mild contraction of 0.1 percent in 2017 after growing 2.4 percent in 2016.  The fastest growing service subsector is forecast to be the education and health services subsector, which is expected to grow 1 percent and add almost 200 new jobs to the area.  The education and health services subsector added more than 800 jobs from 2012 to 2016, but in 2017 employment in the subsector remained flat.
  • Government sector employment is forecast to remain flat in 2019 in the Topeka area, with small growth in federal and local government offset by job losses in the state government.  Government employment has declined each year since 2015 in the Topeka area, declining by more than 800 jobs in that time.
 

*The Topeka metropolitan area consists of Jackson, Jefferson, Osage, Shawnee, and Wabaunsee counties in Kansas.

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Kansas City Employment Forecast

Released October 4, 2018  (See previous version.)

Total nonfarm employment in the Kansas City, MO-KS, metropolitan area* grew by 1.6 percent in 2017, adding more than 16,500 new workers to bring the employed workforce in the area to 1.08 million employees.   This follows several years of strong employment growth for the metropolitan area, which has averaged 18,200 new jobs each year from 2012 to 2017.  Over that time Kansas City’s overall employment has grown more quickly than both the Missouri and Kansas state averages. Unemployment declined to 3.8 percent of the Kansas City labor force in 2017, a drop of 0.5 percentage points from 2016.

Growth is projected to accelerate slightly in 2018 for Kansas City, with almost 18,500 new jobs added.  In 2019, Kansas City is forecast to create more than 15,000 new jobs, with employment growing by  1.4 percent. 

  • The production sectors are projected to grow 1.2 percent in 2019, a modest increase from the 0.9 percent growth from 2017.  The natural resources and construction sector is projected to lead growth, expanding 3.5 percent and adding more than 1,800 jobs in 2019.  Since 2012, the sector has led growth in the production sector with annual growth ranging from 3.4 to 6 percent in that time.  The manufacturing sector is forecast to continue to experience job losses in 2019, following a decline of more than 500 workers in 2017.  The sector is projected to decline by approximately 300 jobs in 2019, a 0.4 percent contraction.
  • The trade, transportation and utlities sector is expected to expand 1.1 percent with the addition of almost 2,400 new workers in 2019.  The wholesale trade sector and the transportation and utiltites sectors are projected to be the fastest growing, while growth in the retail trade sector remains a little more sluggish.  Retail trade employment is expected to grow more quickly in 2019 than in 2017.  Taxable retail sales in the Kansas City area are also expected to increase on an inflation-adjusted basis.
  • Employment growth is projected to be fastest in the service sector in 2019, which is forecast to add more than 10,500 jobs as it expands 1.7 percent.   Since 2011, service sector growth in the Kansas City area has consistently ranged between 1.5 and 2.7 percent, with growth of 1.6 percent in 2017.   

Growth in services in recent years has primarily been driven by growth in the professional and business services subsector and the education and health services sector, which have added a combined average of new 8,500 workers annually to the Kansas City economy from 2010 to 2017.The only service subsector to lose jobs over that period was the information services subsector, which has declined by more than 10,000 workers since 2010 in the Kansas City area.

  • Government sector employment is forecast to increase by 1 percent in 2019, adding more than 1,600 new jobs.  Local government is projected to add more than 1,400 of those jobs, while state and federal government employment is forecast to increase by less than 100 workers each in the area.
 

* The Kansas City, MO-KS, metropolitan area includes Bates, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson, Lafayette, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri and Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami, and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

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Kansas Employment Forecast

Released January 8, 2018 (See previous version.)

From October 2016 to October 2017, Kansas employment has declined by 0.4 percent, a decrease of approximately 5,200 jobs.  In 2018, Kansas total nonfarm employment is projected to increase by 0.1 percent, adding approximately 2,000 jobs, with a range of expected growth between negative 0.2 percent and positive 0.5 percent.  Growth is expected to be lower than Kansas’ average employment growth rate over the last five years, which has been 1 percent.

  • Employment in the production sectors are projected to increase by 0.1 percent in Kansas, adding over 250 jobs in 2018. While the construction sector is expected to expand by almost 500 jobs, the durable and non-durable manufacturing sectors are both projected to modestly decline by approximately 0.1 percent.  Manufacturing employment has declined each year in Kansas since 2015 and remains over 25,000 jobs below the sector’s peak in 2008.
     
  • Trade, transportation and utilities sector employment is expected to grow 0.2 percent, adding approximately 500 new jobs.  The wholesale trade sector and the transportation and utilities sector are projected to grow 1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.  The retail trade sector, however, is projected to decline by 0.7 percent in 2018. This is a reflection of weak growth in retail sales in Kansas recently; from August 2016 to August 2017, inflation-adjusted taxable retail sales for the state declined by 1.7 percent.
     
  • The service sectors are projected to have the strongest growth in Kansas in 2018, with 0.4 percent growth, adding approximately 2,600 jobs.  The two fastest growing service sectors are forecast to be the professional business services sector and the education and health services sector, which are collectively expected to add about 3,300 jobs. The drivers for this growth are expected to be an aging population and broader national growth in the service industries.  The information and other services sectors are collectively projected to lose 2,000 jobs.
     
  • The government sector is expected to contract by approximately 1,400 jobs in 2018, declining 0.6 percent.  Local, state and federal government employment are all projected to decline in Kansas, with the fastest decline at the federal level.

The Topeka, Kansas City, and Wichita metropolitan areas are all expected to grow at rates faster than the state average in 2018, with a combined average growth rate of 0.9 percent.  Excluding these three MSAs, the remainder of the state is forecast to experience an employment decline of approximately 1.1 percent, in part due to declines in some core sectors, such as mining and agriculture.

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