• Kansas
  • Wichita
  • Kansas City
  • Topeka

Kansas Employment Forecast

Released January 8, 2019  (See previous version.)

Kansas total nonfarm employment increased by approximately 20,000 workers from November 2017 to November 2018, a 1.4 percent increase, with growth across most sectors. This was a substantial upturn in employment after near-zero employment growth in the state in 2016 and 2017, with only a cumulative 0.2 percent increase over those two years. Kansas’s unemployment rate has continued to decline in 2018 to 3.2 percent in November 2018, the lowest level in the state since May 1999. Nationally, unemployment also declined in 2018 to a low of 3.7 percent in November 2018. 

In Kansas, employment growth is projected to continue into 2019 at 1.1 percent, which is expected to add more than 15,000 net new jobs statewide. Growth is forecast to be the strongest in the production sectors, while the government sector is projected to have the slowest employment growth in the Kansas economy.

  •  The production sector employment growth is forecast to remain robust in 2019 after being the fastest growing sector of the Kansas economy in 2018. The sector is projected to add approximately 3,500 new jobs in 2019, for 1.5 percent growth. The growth is expected to be broad-based in the sector, with construction employment growing 1.9 percent and manufacturing employment increasing by 1.4 percent. If growth continues as expected, 2018 and 2019 would be the first two-year period in which both construction and manufacturing employment increased consecutively since 2013 and 2014.
  • Employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector is projected to grow 1.2 percent in 2019, adding more than 3,200 jobs. Growth has been led in recent years by the transportation and warehousing sector, which grew by more than 2,000 jobs in 2016 and 2017 and added 4,800 jobs from November 2017 to November 2018, as Kansas has grown in importance as a Midwestern transportation hub. The retail and wholesale trade sectors have experienced employment declines in recent years, in part due to a 2.4 percent decline in inflation-adjusted taxable retail sales in Kansas in 2017. Both sectors are projected to have modest job gains in 2019.
  • Service sector employment is projected to increase 1.1 percent, which would add more than 7,000 new jobs to the Kansas economy. Growth across the service sector is forecast to be broad-based, with the financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality sectors each projected to add between 1,500 and 2,700 new jobs. The information sector is the only service sector forecast to decline in employment, with a 4.2 percent contraction, which would be the twelfth consecutive year of employment decline in the sector in Kansas.
  • Employment in Kansas’ governmental sector is forecast to grow 0.5 percent in 2019. Growth is expected to primarily occur in the local government sector, which comprises approximately 70 percent of total government employment in the state. Federal and state government employment are projected to grow modestly as well.
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Wichita Employment Forecast

Released January 8, 2019  (See previous version.)

Total nonfarm employment in the Wichita metropolitan area* increased by approximately 2,100 workers from October 2017 to October 2018, a 0.8 percent expansion of the workforce. This marked a return to the level of growth experienced in the Wichita area from 2012 to 2016, after experiencing a contraction in overall employment in 2017. Wichita’s unemployment rate declined throughout 2018 to a low of 3.5 percent in October 2018, the lowest unemployment rate for the area since 1999.

Wichita is estimated to add approximately 2,500 jobs in 2018, and growth is projected to increase modestly to 0.9 percent in 2019, with more than 2,700 new jobs added.

  • After declining in employment in both 2016 and 2017, Wichita’s production sectors rebounded sharply in 2018, adding more than 1,500 jobs through October 2018, as compared to October 2017. Growth was primarily in the manufacturing sector, which added approximately 1,000 jobs, while the construction sector contributed another 500 jobs. With continued investment from local firms, the manufacturing sector is expected to increase by more than 800 jobs in 2019. The bulk of the growth is projected to be in the durable goods sector, after both durable and non-durable manufacturing employment grew in 2018. The construction sector is also forecast to grow substantially, adding more than 400 new jobs in 2019 with continued positive indicators from the residential market.
  • In 2017, trade, transportation and utilities employment declined by 1,400 workers, and that trend continued through the first 10 months of 2018, with an additional decline of 200 workers. The job losses have primarily been concentrated in the retail trade sector, as retail sales have remained relatively flat in the area in 2016 and 2017. The trade sector is projected to gain more than 300 jobs in 2019, mostly in the transportation sector, while retail trade employment is forecast to remain flat while retail sales in the area are projected to increase slightly after a decline in 2017.
  • The service sectors are forecast to grow 0.6 percent in 2019, adding almost 800 new jobs, following growth of 1,200 jobs through the first ten months of 2018. The professional and business services sector and leisure and hospitality sector are projected to comprise almost all of the overall growth in the service sectors. Professional and business services are forecast to grow 2.1 percent in 2019, continuing the growth trend that began in 2018 with more than 1,000 jobs added. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector has grown in each of the past seven years, and that trend is expected to continue in 2019 with more than 200 jobs added. Employment in the financial activities, education and health services, and other services sectors are all projected to remain relatively flat in 2019, while the information sector is forecast to decline by approximately 200 jobs.
  • Wichita’s governmental sector employment is projected to grow 0.9 percent, adding more than 300 jobs. The local, federal, and state government sectors are each forecast to add approximately 100 jobs.

*The Wichita metropolitan consists of Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, Kingman, and Sumner counties.

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Kansas City Employment Forecast

Released January 8, 2019  (See previous version.)

Total nonfarm employment in the Kansas City, MO-KS, metropolitan area* increased by more than 16,000 jobs from November 2017 to November 2018, growing 1.5 percent. The metropolitan area has grown strongly in recent years, averaging more than 18,000 new jobs annually from 2012 to 2017. During that time Kansas City’s overall employment has grown more rapidly than both the Missouri and Kansas state averages. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the Kansas City area declined to 3.1 percent in September 2018, its lowest level in 18 years.

In 2019, the Kansas City metropolitan area is projected to add more than 16,100 new jobs, with employment growth of 1.5 percent. The growth is projected to be broad-based, with the production, service, and government sectors’ employment expected to each grow more than one percent.

  •  Production sector employment is projected to grow 1.5 percent in 2019, adding more than 1,800 jobs. This is forecast to be an acceleration compared to 2017 and 2018, in part due to the manufacturing sector returning to positive job growth after employment declines in 2017 and 2018. The natural resources and construction sector is expected to continue its growth pattern from recent years, with projected growth of 3.1 percent. Since 2012, the sector has led growth in the production sector with annual growth ranging from 3.4 to 6 percent in that time.
  • Employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector is forecast to grow 0.9 percent in 2019, adding more than 2,000 jobs to the metropolitan economy. The retail and wholesale trade sectors are projected to continue to grow between 0.5 and 1 percent, while the transportation and utilities sector is expected to lead growth with more than 800 new jobs in 2019.
  • The service sector is expected to have the fastest employment growth in the Kansas City metropolitan area in 2019, with 1.7 percent growth and more than 10,000 new jobs. This is projected to be a modest increase compared to the sector’s growth in 2017 and 2018, which was approximately 1.6 percent annually. Since 2011, Kansas City’s service sector growth has annually grown between 1.5 and 2.7 percent. The fastest growing service sectors in recent years have been the professional and business services sector and the education and health services sector. Professional and business services employment has grown 21.2 percent from 2011 to 2017, and education and health services employment has grown 14.1 percent in that time. The only service sector with contracting employment has been the information sector, which declined by approximately 6,800 jobs from 2011 to 2017.
  • Government sector employment is forecast to grow by 1.4 percent in 2019, adding more than 2,000 new jobs. This growth is projected to largely occur in the local government sector, while state and federal government employment is expected to remain largely flat

*The Kansas City, MO-KS, metropolitan area includes Bates, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson, Lafayette, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri and Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami, and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

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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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