Average annual employment in the Wichita metropolitan area* increased by 4,917 workers in 2021, a growth of 1.7%. In the first half of 2022, the regional economy added 5,325 as employers scrambled to add talent to the payroll.
While the U.S. and global economies were plagued with recession and inflation fears, the Wichita Economy had slightly more optimism. Current and expected growth within manufacturing led to increased employment and wages. As of November 2022, manufacturing added 2,600 jobs. The growth has spilled over into the services sectors, particularly within leisure and hospitality.
The Wichita area recovery is expected to moderate into 2023, as both tightening monetary policy and labor conditions will dampen the outlook. Although global and national market conditions are slowing, the Wichita metropolitan area is expected to have one of the most robust growths within the state, adding 2,900 jobs at an annualized increase of 1.0%. That same growth is also projected to continue into 2024.
The production sectors are forecast to increase in employment by 2.2% with the addition of more than 1,455 workers. The durable goods manufacturing sector is projected to lead the growth, adding 1,142 jobs, as the aerospace industry continues its growth momentum. Non-durable manufacturing is expected to have flat growth at 12 jobs. The natural resources and construction sector is projected to have minimal growth in 2023, as new housing demand is cooling off due to interest rates and home price appreciation.
Employment in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector is expected to increase by just fewer than 285 workers, growing 0.6%. The slowing growth within this industry is driven primarily by the persistent inflation eroding household purchasing power and its effects on the retail subsector.
The service sectors are expected to grow 0.5% and are projected to represent 24% of all area employment growth. The leisure and hospitality sector is expected to lead the growth adding over 238 jobs of the almost 693 service sector jobs created in Wichita in 2023. The professional and business services sector, which declined by 3.0% in 2022, is expected to rebound in 2023 by 0.4%. The financial activities sector, which often mirrors the broader economy, will likely grow by 0.7% over the next year.
The labor market conditions for households remain robust, as employers are anticipated to expand jobs by 1.0% in 2023. The growth will put further pressure on the market and will likely decrease unemployment over the next two years.
*The Wichita metropolitan area consists of Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, and Sumner counties.