The Great Recession, which began in December 2007, did not significantly impact the Wichita economy until 2009, when employment dropped 5 percent. The recovery in Wichita has been similarly delayed. In 2010, U.S. employment dropped only 0.8 percent, while Wichita's employment level declined 3 percent.

Employment in Wichita and the United States, as a whole, is poised to grow in 2011. The first half of the year, U.S. employment was 0.9 percent higher than the first half of 2010. Wichita's employment was 0.2 percent higher for the same time period. The Center for Economic Development and Business Research is forecasting a 1.3 percent increase in employment for 2012, for a total gain of 3,800 jobs. However, there are many unknowns, including The American Jobs Act that was unveiled on Sept. 8, that have the potential to sway this forecast.

Total nonfarm employment is expected to increase 1.3 percent in 2012, for a total gain of 3,800 jobs in the Wichita area. Manufacturing employment is expected to show more improvement than it has since the beginning of the recession, with a gain of 650 jobs, or a growth rate of 1.2 percent in 2012. The production sector, as a whole, will gain 945 jobs, growing by 1.4 percent. Trade, transportation and utilities are forecasted to increase by 240 jobs, or 0.5 percent. The service sectors are expected to increase 2.1 percent in 2012, while the government sector is forecasted to remain stable.

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