For September 2018, more jobs in Kansas than last September, but fewer than in August.
Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows an improving jobs picture for Kansas in September 2018.
Over the year (September 2017 to September 2018), the Kansas labor force is up slightly, and also rising slightly over the past three months. These changes are small, all being in the range of 0.1 percent or less.
The number of unemployed persons continues to fall, declining by 1.3 percent from July to August. The unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in September, down from 3.6 percent from one year ago, and unchanged from August.
The number of Kansas nonfarm jobs for September 2018 rose by 1.4 percent over last September, adding 19,600 jobs. This is using seasonally adjusted data, and the non-adjusted figure is slightly larger at 20,600.
From August 2018 to September 2018, nonfarm employment in Kansas fell by 6,900, which is 0.5 percent.
Of the condition of highways, the report notes: “Since the data was first collected in 1983, the percentage of pavement surface in good condition has appreciably increased while the percentage of poor pavement has significantly decreased.”
Here’s a chart of the conditions of Kansas roads and highways. 2 It shows that, for interstate highways, the percent of the system in good condition has been pretty level since 2001, although there is a slight decline recently that is within the range of normal year-to-year variation. For non-interstate highways, the percent in good condition fell starting in 2004, but has rebounded, with a small decline in the most recent year.
Based on these charts, there’s no factual basis to claim that Kansas roads and highways are deteriorating or crumbling.
KDOT notes that the condition report “…also shows that while the last few years have been challenging due to very tight budgets, KDOT and its partners continue to find means to maintain the pavement surface condition.” The most recent financial report from KDOT shows that spending on preservation has fallen significantly the past three years, while spending on maintenance has been level. 3
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Republican candidate for Congress Representative Ron Estes explains why he should continue to be our representative in the United States House of Representatives. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 214, broadcast October 21, 2018.
Following, from Karl Peterjohn, an account of why the Wichita Pachyderm Club is a valuable civic institution. The candidate mentioned in the article is Renee Duxler, running for Sedgwick County Commission District 1 (map is here). On her Facebook page she wrote “Proving once again that Democrats and Republicans can share ideas and thoughtful discussion within the same spaces … this gal ‘infiltrated’ the Wichita Pachyderm Club for a great presentation by Kyle Bauer, of KFRM radio, on the history and future of agriculture here in Kansas. They were very gracious and welcoming, and I enjoyed the experience immensely. Let’s keep the conversations going Sedgwick County!” Of note: Her opponent, Wichita City Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita), said he was “troubled” that the Pachyderm Club had a member who supported Duxler instead of him.
Political civility in our age of thuggery
By Karl Peterjohn
I want to protect the identity of the Democrat candidate who made the decision to attend the October 12 Pachyderm Club meeting in downtown Wichita. I am concerned that retribution from the leftist loons and Alinskyite thugs that inhabit the extremist, but increasingly mainstream wing of the Democrat Party could be substantial. This is not a partisan statement. A couple of days ago I saw an online report where a Pennsylvania Democrat was forced to resign his party position because of his pro-American beliefs.
While I was presiding as the substitute president, I had the task of introducing elected officials and during elections, candidates running for office. This is routine with anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen candidates in attendance as we were about four weeks away from an election.
I was informed that a Democrat candidate was attending this GOP meeting and I was asked to include her in the candidate introductions. In our current age where GOP members of Congress have been shot and assaulted by socialist and leftists (Steve Scalise and Rand Paul), where GOP offices from Manhattan to Wyoming have been vandalized this month, where GOP candidates in Minnesota have been physically attacked while campaigning, it would have been easy to decline this request. I considered doing this.
However, there should be civility in our public affairs, despite odious comments to the contrary from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, about civility being only for progressives, liberals, and leftists. Dare I say it, we increasingly live in a country and period of time where good political manners, are the exception and not the rule. Now the Pachyderm rules are clear, with all GOP candidates being endorsed for the general election ballot, but no position taken in contested primaries. The rule on public introductions is not clear, was left to the presiding officer, no matter how temporary he happens to be, at the podium.
When I got down to the Democrat candidate’s name I went ahead and introduced her to the Pachyderm Club members and guests. I did point out her party affiliation, and contrasted the Pachyderm’s polite treatment of this Democrat candidate with the vile statement from the Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder that violence, in the form of his admonition, “… kick them,” in attacking Republicans is increasingly the political standard today.
The Wichita Pachyderm Club has occasionally had democrats as speakers. I pointed this out. A prominent Wichita Democrat, Professor Mel Kahn, has spoken to Pachyderm and the informational speakers, whether they are talking about Plato, Alexander Hamilton, or at this meeting, agriculture in Kansas, do not have a partisan political subject. This speaker, KFRM radio’s Kyle Bauer, could have just as easily provided his excellent agriculture presentation to Democrats, Libertarians, or any other group of Kansans interested in this important part of our state’s economy (This is a free plug for Mr. Bauer who provided an exceptional agriculture presentation).
I believe that the Pachyderm Club provided an example of civility in the public policy arena. This is Kansas nice. Sadly, this is increasingly the exception in today’s toxic political climate where conservatives and Republican elected officials are harassed in public, harangued at restaurants, in office hallways, town hall meetings disrupted, and general nastiness under Representative Maxine Waters admonitions promoting thuggery are increasingly commonplace. I must admit, that in the past the Pachyderm Club has taken steps to make sure that disruptions, and disruptive behavior, did not occur from non-members who opposed a speaker at one of our meetings. How sad.
The Constitution of our country is the outline of how we govern ourselves. The states, and the localities and governmental bodies created by the states (like counties, cities, and school districts), are the public institutions we use to resolve public policy differences in our democratic republic. Our Constitution has been a model for the rest of the world since it was enacted in 1789. Other nations resolve their public policy differences by other ways, using other means. These often conflict with the liberty our Constitution and its amendments, tries to establish.
It has been said, that politics is a form of war by other means. We had one civil war, with over 600,000 killed and hundreds of thousands permanently injured, and that is a part of our nation’s history when our differences could not be resolved politically. Violence and thuggery should not be part of our future, but it is a present problem, and a growing threat to our republic.
I am glad that civility was alive and well at the Pachyderm Club on October 12. I hope that this becomes a model for other public meetings by other groups in the future. I am afraid that this political civility was an exception, but it does deserve public notice since the local news media was not in attendance.
A look at actual spending on Kansas highways, apart from transfers.
When we look at actual spending on Kansas roads and highways, we see something different from what is commonly portrayed. Kansas Department of Transportation publishes a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that details spending in four categories. These figures represent actual spending on roads and highways, independent of transfers to or from the highway fund.
For fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, 2018, spending on two categories (Maintenance and Modernization) rose slightly from the year before, while spending on the categories Preservation and Expansion and Enhancement fell.
For these four categories — which represent the major share of KDOT spending on roads — spending in fiscal 2018 totaled $528.234 million. That’s down 28 percent from $736.781 million the year before, and up from a low of $698.770 million in fiscal 2010.
Again, these are dollars actually spent on highway programs. A common characterization of the way Kansas government is funded is called “robbing the bank of KDOT.” To the extent that characterization is accurate, there is a separate line item titled “Distributions to other state funds” that holds these values. It appears in the nearby table. A chart shows sales tax distributions from the general fund to KDOT, and transfers from KDOT. The two values tack closely over history, and in 2018 were nearly identical values.
Many also criticize Kansas government for slashing highway spending, letting our roads crumble. While total spending on these four programs has been falling (after adjusting for inflation), the decline, until recent years, is minor compared to the hysterical claims of those with vested interests in more government, and especially highway, spending.
Kansas law specifies how much sales tax revenue is transferred to the highway fund. Here are recent rates of transfer and dates they became effective: 1
July 1, 2010: 11.427%
July 1, 2011: 11.26%
July 1, 2012: 11.233%
July 1, 2013: 17.073%
July 1, 2015: 16.226%
July 1, 2016 and thereafter: 16.154%
A nearby chart shows the dollar amounts transferred to the highway fund from sales tax revenue. In 2006 the transfer was $98.914 million, and by 2018 it had grown to $530.765 million.
One of the most important charts shows state spending per-pupil, adjusted for inflation. It shows the total of state and local spending, which is useful because in 2015 the state made a change in the way revenue is allocated between state and local sources. It also shows base state aid per pupil, which is an important number as it is the starting point for the school funding formula.
Why is total state and local spending higher than base state aid? The answer is weightings. These are amounts that are added to the base to pay for things like at-risk children, English language learners, and other items. The value of weightings has grown over time, so as base state aid has generally fallen, total spending has generally risen.
A second chart shows the ratio of total state and local spending to base state aid.
This is not simply a technical matter. In discussions of school policy, sometimes only the base aid figure is used. As it has fallen, some formulate an argument that school spending has been cut. That is easily refuted by looking at total state and local spending.
Of note, base state aid was not used in school years 2016 and 2017, which explains the gap in some of the series.
I’ve gathered these charts and others and present them in a presentation. Use arrow keys to move through the charts. Click here to access.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Democratic Party candidate for Congress James Thompson explains why he should be our next representative in the United States House of Representatives. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 213, broadcast October 14, 2018.
Following, articles that address some of the topics I presented:
Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas: Industrial Revenue Bonds are a mechanism that Kansas cities and counties use to allow companies to avoid paying property and sales taxes.
Wichita TIF projects: some background: Tax increment financing disrupts the usual flow of tax dollars, routing funds away from cash-strapped cities, counties, and schools back to the TIF-financed development. TIF creates distortions in the way cities develop, and researchers find that the use of TIF means lower economic growth.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Author Lenore Skenazy talks about today’s children and the free-range kids movement. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 212, broadcast October 7, 2018.
For the Wichita metropolitan area in August 2018, jobs are up, the unemployment rate is down, and the labor force is smaller, compared to the same month one year ago.
Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows an improving employment situation for the Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The best numbers for Wichita are the total nonfarm employment series, which rose from 291,300 last August to 296,000 this July. That’s an increase of 4,700 jobs, or 1.6 percent. (This data is not seasonally adjusted, so month-to-month comparisons are not valid.)
The unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, down from 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Considering seasonally adjusted data from the household survey, the labor force rose by five persons from July 2018, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 511 (4.7 percent), and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent from 3.8 percent. The number of employed persons not on farms rose to 296,366 in August from 295,810 the prior month, an increase of 556 persons, or 0.2 percent.
Currently there is discussion in Wichita on whether higher education is valued by residents. Following, from April 2011, a look at the educational achievement of the Wichita City Council. The members of the council cited below were Lavonta Williams, Sue Schlapp, Jim Skelton, Paul Gray, Jeff Longwell, and Janet Miller. Carl Brewer was mayor.
Before Jim Skelton left the council in January, none of the four men serving on the Wichita City Council had completed a college degree. The three women serving on the council set a better example, with all three holding college degrees.
Of the candidates running in next week’s election for four council seats and the office of mayor, less than half hold college degrees.
Is it necessary to complete college in order to serve in an office like mayor or city council? Apparently, none of the four men who held these offices without a degree thought so. The two running to retain their present positions — Mayor Carl Brewer and council member Jeff Longwell (district 5, west and northwest Wichita) — evidently don’t think so, or they would not be running again.
But we tell young people that college holds the key to success. We encourage schoolchildren to consider college and to take a rigorous high school curriculum in order to prepare for it. We encourage families to save for college. Our region’s economic development agency promotes the number of people with college or advanced degrees. We promote our colleges and universities as a factor that distinguishes Wichita. We hope that our elected officials will set an example we want young people to follow.
Once in office, we ask our city elected officials to attempt to grasp and understand complex sets of financial data, working with a budget of about half a billion dollars for the City of Wichita. We hope that they will be able to consider large and weighty issues such as the role of government in a free society. Members of the professional management staff — bureaucrats — that manage the city, county, and state are generally required to hold college degrees.
The irony is that elected officials often are highly reliant on the bureaucratic staff for information, data, and advice, and this professional bureaucracy is often highly educated. Does this imbalance create problems?
Elected officials compared to regular people
Amazingly, it turns out that elected officials, as a group, are less knowledgeable about civics than the general population. That’s the finding of Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which surveyed Americans and their knowledge of civics in 2008. After analyzing the data, ISI concluded: “Simply put, the more you know about American government, history, and economics the less likely you are to pursue and win elective office.”
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Republican Party candidate for Kansas governor and current Secretary of State Kris Kobach joins Bob and Karl to explain why he should be our next governor. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 211, broadcast September 30, 2018.
What is the importance of agriculture to the Kansas economy?
United States Representative Roger Marshall said: “My district is the largest ag-producing congressional district in the country, with 60 percent of the economy being ag related. Forty percent of the Kansas economy is ag related.” 1
The Kansas Hospital Association argues: “In Table 5, the total income impact of health care services resulted in an estimated $19.4 billion for the economy. Thus, health care is directly or closely related to about 11.6 percent of the state’s total income.” 2
The Kansas Department of Transportation produced a study that finds: “In 2017, $20.6 billion in annual economic benefit was supported by aviation and aviation-related activities in Kansas, supported nearly 91,300 jobs, and generated more than $4.4 billion in annual payroll.” 3 $20.6 billion is 14.9 percent of the $138.328 billion Kansas economy.
The nonalcoholic beverage industry says: “With a direct economic impact of $2.0 billion.” Then “Factoring in this retail impact further broadens the economic reach of the nonalcoholic beverage industry by an additional $1.7 billion beyond what our industry generates directly.” 4 The total of $3.7 billion is about 2.7 percent of the Kansas economy. That’s coming just from nonalcoholic beverages.
We can easily find other examples of industry groups emphasizing their importance to the Kansas economy. But these findings are almost always exaggerated, especially in the case of agriculture.
For example, the Kansas Department of Agriculture says “Using the most recent IMPLAN data available (2015) adjusted for 2017, 65 agriculture, food, and food processing sectors were analyzed to determine their overall contribution to the Kansas economy. These 65 sectors have a total direct output of approximately $47.9 billion and support 125,714 jobs in Kansas.” 5 The document says this is 31.6 percent of Kansas GDP.
Direct output is defined in the same document in this paragraph: “Direct, indirect, and induced effects sum together to estimate the total economic contribution in the state. Direct effects capture the contribution from agricultural and food products. Indirect effects capture the economic benefit from farms and agricultural businesses purchasing inputs from supporting industries within the state. Induced effects capture the benefits created when employees of farms, agricultural businesses, and the supporting industries spend their wages on goods and services within the state.”
Adding indirect and induced effects results in $67,461,102,358 ($67.5 billion) in economic contribution, which the Department of Agriculture says is 44.5 percent of Kansas economic output, also called gross domestic product (GDP).
It is true that agricultural workers spend money like anyone else. They spend on food, shelter, taxes, recreation, cars, clothing, and other things. Therefore, an agriculture industry support group might say “Farmers keep small town Kansas restaurants in business, providing jobs for restaurant workers.”
Then, a restaurant industry support group might say “By buying meats and produce locally, restaurants keep Kansas farmers in business.”
All this is true. But we need to be careful when counting contributions to the whole. Here, when farmers eat at restaurants, that is counted as induced effects of agriculture contributing to Kansas GDP. But, the restaurant industry counts the production and serving of these meals as its own direct output to Kansas GDP.
Similarly, when the restaurant buys food from a farmer, the purchase counts as indirect effects of the restaurant industry as they purchase inputs and contribute to Kansas GDP. The farmer, of course, considers that as his direct output, again contributing to Kansas GDP.
This economic activity is good and natural, and the more, the better. But we can’t count it twice when allocating GDP to industries.
Consider the industry category “Dog and cat food manufacturing,” said by the Department of Agriculture to employ 2,183.7 people in Kansas, producing $3,125,350,139 ($3.1 billion) in contribution to the Kansas GDP. That’s 2.2 percent of Kansas GDP. Should all the output of this industry be considered part of Kansas agriculture? The manufacturing industry counts this as part of its contribution to GDP. It’s true that the inputs to the manufacturing are agricultural products, but we don’t know if they are ag products that are produced in Kansas and should be counted as part of Kansas GDP.
The nearby table shows that for 2017, agriculture counted for 3.2 percent of the Kansas economy. For the period 1997 to 2017, it was 2.7 percent. There are many industry groups with greater output than agriculture.
How are the GDP numbers for agriculture inflated to 44.5 percent? IMPLAN, that’s how. It is an economic model used to estimate contributions of economic activity to the larger economy. 6
It’s true that when an industry produces economic activity, it spawns other economic activity. These are the indirect and induced effects that IMPLAN produces. But these numbers are hugely inflated. When considering all industries, economic activity is counted more than once.
When it suits their needs, industry groups, like other special interest groups, use IMPLAN to boost their importance. Consider manufacturing, which at 16.4 percent of GDP is the second-largest industry in Kansas. When manufacturing companies appeal to state or local government for subsidies, they use IMPLAN or related mechanisms to inflate their importance. Almost everyone does this. It’s standard procedure.
Except: When multiple industries the same indirect and induced economic activity, such analysis becomes meaningless. If we added up the IMPLAN-calculated value of each industry to the Kansas economy, we’d end up with a value several times larger than the actual value. This is what the Kansas Department of Agriculture has done. We expect this behavior from companies or local economic development agencies when they appeal for economic development incentives and other forms of special treatment. They need to inflate their importance to gullible government bureaucrats and elected officials. But government agencies should not do this.
On the other hand, what is the harm in overstating the importance of an industry? The harm is that policy decisions are made using false evidence.
For August 2018, more jobs in Kansas, and a nearly unchanged labor force. Wichita jobs also rose.
Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, shows an improving jobs picture for Kansas in August 2018.
Over the year (August 2017 to August 2018), the Kansas labor force is down slightly, while up slightly over the past three months. These changes are small, all being in the range of 0.1 percent or less.
The number of unemployed persons continues to fall, declining by 1.4 percent from July to August. The unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in August, down from 3.6 percent from one year ago, and from 3.4 percent in July.
The number of Kansas nonfarm jobs for August 2018 rose by 1.9 percent over last August, adding 26,600 jobs. This is using seasonally adjusted data, and the non-adjusted figure is larger at 29,900.
From July 2018 to August, jobs in Kansas rose by 3,600, which is 0.3 percent.
This release also provided some data for metropolitan areas. For the Wichita MSA, here are employees on nonfarm payrolls, not seasonally adjusted:
August 2017: 291,300
July 2018: 294,500
August 2018: 296,000 (up 4,700 jobs, or 1.6 percent over the year)
Comparing July 2018 to August 2018 isn’t meaningful using this data, as it is not adjusted for seasonality.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Independent candidate for Kansas governor Rick Kloos joins Bob and Karl to explain why he should be our next governor. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 210, broadcast September 23, 2018.
The GDP figures are real, meaning adjusted for inflation. They are annual numbers through 2017. The release this week also includes revisions for the prior year. In the case of Wichita, the revision was significant, with a loss in GDP being revised to a gain. See Wichita economy shrinks, and a revision for details.
A nearby example from the visualization compares Wichita metro GDP growth to that of the nation’s metropolitan areas.
For 2017, the Wichita metropolitan area GDP, in real dollars, fell by 1.4 percent. Revised statistics for 2016 indicate growth of 3.8 percent for that year. Last year BEA reported growth of -1.4 percent.
In the revised statistics released today, GDP in 2012 was 28,346 million in chained 2009 dollars. In 2017 it was 29,610 million, a change of 1,264 million or 4.4 percent. For all U.S. metropolitan areas, the same statistic increased from 13,692,212 million to 15,224,212 million, an increase of 1,532,000 million or 11.2 percent.