Released May 12, 2022 (See previous version)
In 2021, overall state-level unemployment was estimated to have fallen dramatically from 6.01% to 3.34%. Indicative of continuing labor market adaptation and recovery from the ongoing novel Coronavirus pandemic, these trends are expected to continue throughout 2022 and 2023, halving the number of Kansans left unemployed in 2020. There remains a degree of uncertainty as mutations of the virus, such as the Omicron variant, continue to place strain on the population, workforce, and economy through surges in infection rates. Still, this strain is dampened by the now robust access to and availability of vaccines and treatments, and the outlook appears increasingly optimistic. Vaccination rates in Kansas have mostly plateaued for both full and partial vaccinations. Other international issues such as the Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine and the associated concern over the trade of commodities such as petrochemical products, food, etc. are expected to impact the Kansas economy through increased demand for those same goods.
By sectors, employment growth is expected to be felt unevenly. Trade occupations saw strong growth in 2021, where they added 5,092 jobs. Solid growth is forecasted for 2022 and 2023, where the respective addition of 2,143 (0.8%%) and 2,491 (0.9%%) jobs are expected. The largest component of Kansas' labor market, the service sector, grew by 1.4% in 2021, adding 8,575 jobs, and is expected to continue growing through 2023, making a net addition of 17,913 jobs since 2020.
The most significant component of job growth in the service sector comes from leisure and hospitality occupations, which have rebounded dramatically in 2021 (8.6% growth from 2020) alongside increasing vaccine availability and an ever-adapting labor force and job market. Concurrent with this expansion, retail sales have similarly bounced back in 2021, growing 11.1% relative to 2020, and are forecasted to continue to grow, even after adjusting for inflation. As a result, monthly retail sales in 2022 and 2023 are both expected to exceed $1.7 billion.
In the production sector, growth was moderate in 2021, where it gained 2,008 jobs. However, this growth is forecasted to hasten in 2022 and 2023, respectively, adding 4,084 jobs and then another 2,820 jobs. The government sector lost 383 jobs in 2021 but is expected to recover somewhat in 2022 with 0.5% growth. In 2023, government is estimated to remain around its 2022 level, netting an increase of 1,102 jobs since 2020.
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