Wichita Employment Forecast

Released May 9, 2019  (See previous version.)

Total nonfarm employment in the Wichita metropolitan area* increased by approximately 3,500 workers in 2018, creating 1.2 percent growth in local workforce. This expansion was the fastest single-year growth in the area since 2008, a sharp turnaround from the modest employment contraction of 2017. Wichita’s unemployment rate declined 0.for the eighth consecutive year to 3.7 percent in 2018, the area’s lowest annual unemployment rate since 1999.

Wichita’s employment expansion is forecast to continue in 2019 with 0.9 percent employment growth, adding more than 2,700 new jobs to the metropolitan area.

  •  After employment declines in both 2016 and 2017, Wichita’s production sectors’ employment increased at their fastest rate since 2008 in 2018. Manufacturing employment increased by 1,800 jobs, with increases in both the durable goods and nondurable goods subsectors. Construction and mining employment grew by 2.5 percent in 2018, adding 400 jobs. With continued investment from local firms, expected, the manufacturing sector is projected to add an additional 1,000 new jobs in 2019. With continued positive signs in the local housing market, the construction sector is forecast to add more than 200 new jobs in 2019.
  • Wichita’s trade, transportation and utilities sector employment declined in 2017 and 2018, contracting by approximately 2,000 jobs. The retail trade sector experienced the bulk of the job losses with 1,100 jobs lost in that period. The transportation sector was the only trade and transportation subsector to gain jobs in 2018, growing 2.1 percent. Overall, the trade, transportation and utilities sector is projected to decline by 0.6 percent in 2019, which is forecast to contract by approximately 300 jobs, due in part to inflation-adjusted retail sales for the area expected to remain relatively flat.
  • After increasing by 1,100 jobs in 2018, Wichita’s service sectors are projected to add more than 1,300 new jobs in 2019. The leisure and hospitality sector is forecast to have the fastest growth at 1.8 percent, continuing the sector’s trend of growing fastest than the area’s average for each of the last eight years. The professional and business services sector and education and health care sector are expected to provide much of the rest of service sector job growth in 2019,  collectively adding almost 700 new jobs to the local economy. The information sector is the only service sector projected to experience an employment decline in 2019, contracting by less than one percent.
  • Wichita’s governmental sector is projected to add more than 400 jobs, with employment growing 1.1 percent. Employment is forecast to grow at the federal, state, and local levels, with the largest increase at the local level.

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

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