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Looking at jobs in Wichita

Examining job creation in Wichita as compared to the state and the nation.

These charts show job changes in Wichita (Wichita MSA, the metropolitan statistical area, as that is the data that is provided monthly), Kansas, and the nation. Each chart shows the percentage, or relative, changes in nonfarm jobs on a common scale, using seasonally adjusted data. The source of data is Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor. These charts are taken from an interactive visualization of this data, which is available here.

For the chart starting in May 2015, we can see the loss of jobs in Wichita during 2017. The situation improves after that year. Note also that the Wichita and Kansas lines, broadly speaking, show a similar trend, although the Wichita line has more variation. Also, while Wichita lost jobs in 2017, the national economy was strong and was creating jobs. (Click charts for larger versions.)

In the chart starting in January 2018, we see Wichita mostly keeping up with the pace set by the nation, and for most of the time, doing better than the state.

In the chart starting in January 2019, Wichita begins by closely tracking the nation, but stumbles behind in the summer. Kansas does better than the nation.

For the first nine months of 2019, Wichita jobs have grown from 301,600 in January to 302,600 in September. That’s an increase of 1,000 jobs, or 0.3 percent. If that rate stays unchanged through the end of the year, Wichita jobs will have grown by about 0.4 percent.

Not shown in these charts is that using not seasonally adjusted data, Wichita jobs have grown by 1.9 percent since January 2019. Using not seasonally adjusted data over a period of less than one year is problematic. For the past 12 months, using not seasonally adjusted data, jobs grew by 0.9 percent from September 2018 to September 2019.

For reference, the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University forecast Wichita MSA job growth at 0.9 percent for 2019, 1 slowing to 0.5 percent in 2020. 2

Perhaps the most important chart is the following, which shows job changes starting in 1990. It’s easy to spot the recessions, and also to see that the Wichita economy has higher variability than the state or national economy. Since 1990, the Wichita and national economies were “equal” in terms of job creation as recently as 2009. Before then, if the Wichita economy fell behind, it was able to catch up with the nation. But that hasn’t been the case since the end of the Great Recession in 2009.


Notes

  1. Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. 2019 Wichita Employment Forecast. May 2019. Available at https://www.cedbr.org/content/2019/2019-ict-forecast-may-revision.pdf.
  2. Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. Wichita Employment Forecast. October 3, 2019. Available at https://www.cedbr.org/content/2019/eoc/2020-wichita-forecast.pdf.
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