Released January 26 2022 (See previous version)

In 2021, unemployment in Wichita fell dramatically, from 9.0% down to an estimated 5.5%.  Indicative of continuing labor market adaptation and recovery from the ongoing novel Coronavirus pandemic, these trends are expected to continue throughout 2022 and 2023, more than halving the number of Wichitans left unemployed in 2020.  There remains a degree of uncertainty as mutations of the virus such as the Delta and Omicron variants continue to place strain on the population, workforce, and economy through surges in infection rates.  Still, this strain is dampened by continually increasing access to and availability of vaccines and treatments, and the outlook appears increasingly optimistic.

Personal income grew 2.2% in 2021, and growth is forecasted to continue throughout 2022, 2023, and 2024.  This same trend is observed in personal income per-capita, which saw 1.1% growth in 2021 with higher rates forecast for coming years, expected to exceed $56,000 per-capita in 2022.

Employment growth is expected to be distributed unevenly across different sectors.  Wichita's trade occupations grew by 0.2% in 2021 but are expected to decline in 2022 and 2023 by 0.9% then 0.1%.  The service sector, the largest component of Wichita’s labor market, grew by 2% in 2021, adding 2,600 jobs, and is expected to continue growing up through 2023, netting 5,800 jobs since 2020.

The most significant component of job growth in the service sector comes from leisure and hospitality occupations, which rebounded dramatically in 2021 (8.4% growth from 2020) alongside increasing vaccine availability and an ever-adapting labor force and job market.  Concurrent with this expansion, retail sales similarly bounced back in 2021, growing 8.0% relative to 2020, and are forecasted to continue growth, even after adjusting for inflation. As a result, retail sales in 2022 and 2023 are expected to each total over $900 million.

Production sector employment fell throughout 2021, a loss of 1,400 jobs, but growth rates are forecasted to be positive in 2022 and 2023, adding 1,300 jobs followed by another 900.  Similarly, the government sector lost 50 jobs in 2021 but is expected to grow in 2022 by 0.9%.  In 2023, government is estimated to grow by 0.6%, leaving a net increase of 360 jobs since 2020.

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









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