Employment and Wages

Leisure and hospitality employment grew by 7,303 jobs in 2022, a continued rebound after having the sharpest contraction in 2020 of any industry. Prior to the pandemic, the industry had grown for nine consecutive years in Kansas from 2010 to 2019, adding more than 16,000 jobs, and its 2022 growth has returned employment to its highest volume since 2018. Every sector in the leisure and hospitality industry experienced employment growth in 2021, with food restaurants and other eating places, the largest component of the sector, experiencing 6.6% growth and an additional 4,080 jobs. Accommodation grew by 751 jobs (8.5%), arts, entertainment, and recreational venues grew by 1,416 jobs (9.4%). The fastest growth seen was in the smaller performing arts and spectator sports sector, which grew by 29.5% Meanwhile, food services and drinking places had the highest volume employment at 5,136 Wages grew in nearly all industry sectors apart from performing arts and spectator sports, which declined for the second year in a row down to $37,522 (-7.6%). Accommodation and food services wages each continued to grow, with accommodation wages growing by 8.7% to $25,39and food service wages growing by 5.4% to $20,274, both sectors having seen consistent year-over-year growth since.


News and Developments

  • In September 2022, sports betting was legalized in Kansas. It is estimated that Kansans bet over $194 million on the 2023 Super Bowl.
  • In July 2023, Regal Cinemas, subsidiary of U.K.-based Cineworld, emerged from the bankruptcy it had declared in September of 2022. However, the Regal Warren Old Town Theatre in Wichita along with the Regal Hollywood Theatre in Topeka, were closed during this bankruptcy period.
  • In December 2022, Diamond Baseball Holdings, the largest operator of teams in Minor League Baseball, acquired the Wichita Wind Surge to its portfolio. This was followed by more changes in August 2023, when the City of Wichita agreed to purchase 2 acres of land near Riverfront Stadium and sell it to Overland Park-based EPC Real Estate Group with the intention of developing the property to include a new hotel and entertainment district.
  • In July 2023, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission approved its first license for a historical horse racing casino. The new casino will replace the Wichita Greyhound Park, which closed in 2007.

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