In 2021, unemployment in Wichita fell dramatically, from 9.01% down to an estimated 5.30%. 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 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.
Personal income grew 2.20% 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 1.11% 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 2.4% in 2021 and are expected to continue growing in 2022 and 2023 by 1.7% then 0.9%. The service sector, the largest component of Wichita's labor market, grew by 2.7% in 2021, adding 3,667 jobs, and is expected to continue to grow through 2023, netting 5,519 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 (10.9% 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 5.9% 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 $360 million.
Production sector employment fell throughout 2021, a loss of 467 jobs, but growth rates are forecasted to be positive in 2022 and 2023, gaining 1,595 jobs followed by another 592, a net gain of 1,720. The government sector gained 550 jobs in 2021, a trend expected to continue in 2022 by 1.1%.
* The Wichita metropolitan consists of Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, Kingman, and Sumner counties.
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