Metro Monitor evaluates the Wichita economy

Metro Monitor from Brookings Institution ranks metropolitan areas on economic performance. How does Wichita fare?

Each year Brookings Institution creates an index of major metropolitan areas called Metro Monitor. The index for 2018 is at https://www.brookings.edu/research/metro-monitor-2018/. The 2018 edition, discussed below, provides rankings based on changes from the year 2015 to 2016. Comparisons over other time periods are also available.

In the area of growth, Wichita ranked 91 out of 100 metropolitan areas. For jobs, the ranking was 89. In the charts, you can see that since the last recession, the Wichita area is falling behind the country, with the gap growing each year. The good news in growth is that Wichita ranks higher in jobs at young firms (67 of 100). Young firms — which are different from small business — are vitally important to economic growth. 1

Example from Metro Monitor for Wichita. Click for larger.

In the two other major categories that Brookings looks at, Wichita is 91 out of 100 in prosperity, and 94 out of 100 in inclusion.

These rankings are based on values through 2016 and represent change from 2015. The index also has data for two other time periods of longer duration.

Looking forward

As the Brookings data end in 2016, what might we find if the data was based on 2017 values? Some of the data Brookings uses is not available until after a lengthy delay, such GDP for metropolitan areas. That data, which is an important indicator of a region’s economic health, is scheduled to be released in September 2018 for complete year 2017 data.

Employment data is available fairly quickly, although it is often revised each year in March. The nearby chart, displaying data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows changes in the average annual employment for Wichita and the nation. For the year 2016, total nonfarm employment in Wichita rose by 0.61 percent. For 2017, the growth rate was 0.54 percent — a slowdown in job growth. An interactive version of the chart is available here. 2

These growth figures are far below the rate for the nation, which were 1.79 and 1.58 percent respectively.

Wichita leaders are talking about success in developing the Wichita economy; that there is momentum for the future. Based on the data we have available, the rate of growth of employment slowed down in 2017 from what was already anemic growth. What is the basis for optimism if we continue our present policies and leadership?

Annual change in job growth, Wichita and USA through 2017. Click for larger.


Notes

  1. Jason Wiens and Chris Jackson. The Importance of Young Firms for Economic Growth. Available at https://www.kauffman.org/what-we-do/resources/entrepreneurship-policy-digest/the-importance-of-young-firms-for-economic-growth.
  2. FRED, from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, is a resource for examining economic data and creating charts and tables. Most of the available data is data gathered from other sources, in this case the Bureau of Labor Statistics. FRED provides a consistent interactive interface to the data, and provides several ways to share the data. Start at https://fred.stlouisfed.org/.

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