Topeka Employment Forecast

Released May 12, 2022 (See previous version)

In 2021, unemployment in Topeka fell dramatically, from an estimated 6.07% down to 3.73%. 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 Topekans 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 2.54% 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 2.16% growth in 2021, with higher rates forecasted for coming years. It is expected to exceed $52,000 in 2022.

 

By sectors, employment growth is expected to be felt unevenly. Trade occupation employment in Topeka contracted considerably, by 11.5% in 2021, but it is expected to grow in 2022 by 2.5%. The service sector, the largest component of Topeka's labor market, grew by 1.2% in 2021, a gain of 675 jobs, and is expected to grow up through 2023, with a net addition of 1,206 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 (7.0% growth from 2020) alongside increasing vaccine availability and an ever-adapting labor force and job market. Concurrent with the recovery and expansion of leisure and hospitality, retail sales similarly bounced back in 2021, growing 8.8% relative to 2020, and are forecasted to continue growing even after adjusting for inflation. As a result, average monthly retail sales in 2022 and 2023 are both expected to exceed $125 million.

 

Production sector employment grew by 825 jobs in 2021. The sector is expected to grow in 2022 and then contract slightly by 0.2% in 2023. The government sector lost 300 jobs in 2021 and is expected to rebound in 2022 by 1.4%.

 

 

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