Topeka Employment Forecast

Released January 8, 2019  (See previous version.)

The Topeka metropolitan area’s* total nonfarm employment declined by approximately 1,000 workers from November 2017 to November 2018, following an 800 worker decline in 2017. From 2012 to 2016, the Topeka area grew by an average of 0.7 percent, and Topeka’s growth has lagged behind the state average every year since 2011 except 2016 when Topeka grew 1.1 percent compared to Kansas’ state average of 0.3 percent.

For 2019, employment in the Topeka area is forecast to grow by 0.3 percent, rebounding from the contractions of 2017 and 2018 by adding approximately 300 new jobs overall to the local economy.

  • The production sectors are expected to lead employment growth in the Topeka metropolitan area, adding almost 200 jobs with a 1.3 percent growth rate. The manufacturing sector has been a bright spot in the Topeka economy in recent years, with 400 jobs added from 2013 to 2017. It is projected to expand 1.1 percent in 2019. The natural resources and construction sector is projected to add fewer than 100 jobs in 2019, continuing to rebound after declining by approximately 400 jobs in 2017.
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities sector employment is forecast to decline by 0.5 percent in 2019, contracting by less than 100 jobs overall. Since 2008, the sector has declined in employment each year in Topeka, ranging from a 0.3 percent to 1.7 percent decline. Overall employment has declined in the retail trade, wholesale trade, and transportation subsectors over this period. Taxable retail sales declined 2.6 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis in 2017, the first decline in Topeka’s inflation-adjusted taxable retail sales since 2013. In 2018 retail sales returned to positive growth, and for 2019, retail sales are projected to grow 0.5 percent after adjusting for inflation
  • • Employment growth in the service sector is projected to be 0.5 percent in 2019, adding more than 200 jobs to the Topeka economy. Service sector employment remained approximately flat in 2017 and 2018 after adding almost 2,000 jobs in 2015 and 2016. The fastest growing service subsector is projected to the professional and business services sector, which is forecast to grow 1.9 percent in 2019, rebounding from a decline of approximately 400 workers in 2017.
  • Government sector employment is projected to have a net employment change of less than 100 jobs in 2019. Federal and local government employment is expected to grow modestly, but state government employment is forecast to decline by approximately the same amount. Government sector employment has declined in seven of the last eight years since 2011 in the Topeka area.

*The Topeka metropolitan area consists of Jackson, Jefferson, Osage, Shawnee, and Wabaunsee counties in Kansas.

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