Kansas City Employment Forecast

Released  May 12, 2022 (See previous version)

In 2021, unemployment in Kansas City fell dramatically, from 6.56% down to 4.22%. Indicative of continuing labor market adaptation and recovery from the ongoing novel Coronavirus pandemic, these trends are expected to continue throughout 2022 and 2023, halving the number of Kansas-Citians 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 2.89% 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 2.11% growth in 2021 with higher rates forecasted for coming years. It is expected to exceed $60,000 in 2022.

 

Employment growth is expected to be distributed unevenly across different sectors. Trade occupations in Kansas City saw solid growth, adding 2,850 jobs in 2021, with growth also forecasted in 2022 and 2023. The addition of 1,282 (1.2%) and 1,992 (1.9%) jobs are expected for these respective years.  The largest component of Kansas City's labor market, the service sector, grew by 0.9% in 2021, adding 2,250 jobs, and is expected to continue growth throughout 2023, making a net addition of 6,978 jobs since 2020.

The most significant component of job growth in the service sector comes from leisure and hospitality occupations, which have rebounded dramatically in 2021 (8.6% 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 8.1% relative to 2020, and are forecasted to continue growing, even after adjusting for inflation. As a result, retail sales in 2022 are expected almost to reach, and in 2023 exceed, $550 million.

Growth was more modest in the production sector throughout 2021, which gained 583 jobs. However, growth rates are forecasted to increase in 2022, adding 1,387 jobs, with another 1,534 in 2023. Similarly, the government sector gained 208 jobs in 2021 and is expected to continue growing in 2022 by 0.7%. In 2023, government is estimated to rise slightly, by 0.1%, resulting in a net increase of 674 jobs since 2020.

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