The reported number of jobs in Downtown Wichita rose in 2018, but there is an issue with the data.
The United States Census Bureau has a program known as LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics, or LODES. According to the Bureau, “The LEHD program produces new, cost effective, public-use information combining federal, state and Census Bureau data on employers and employees under the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership. State and local authorities increasingly need detailed local information about their economies to make informed decisions. The LED Partnership works to fill critical data gaps and provide indicators needed by state and local authorities.”
Data is available by zipcode. This allows isolation of downtown Wichita, which is usually recognized as zip code 67202. Data is now available for the calendar year 2018.
What does the data tell us about downtown Wichita? As can be seen in the nearby table, the number of jobs grew in 2018 by 879. This overcomes a loss of 839 jobs the prior year. Standing at 26,992, the number of jobs in 2018 is almost as high as the number in 2013, which was 27,084.
Since 2010 — about the time Wichita started more aggressive promotion of downtown — the number of jobs has fallen from 27,494 to 26,992, which is a decline of 502 jobs, or 1.8 percent.
The issue with this data
The LODES data classifies employees’ workplaces by the address of a company’s headquarters, not where the employees report for work. This can lead to data being reported that doesn’t align with observations. There are two large examples of this in downtown Wichita: The City of Wichita and USD 259, the Wichita public school district. These organizations have headquarters in zip code 67202, but many employees report for their daily work in other zip codes.
In 2017, the school district moved its headquarters out of downtown, to a different zip code. That move isn’t reflected in this data, even though it is reported for the year 2018. The count of employees whose workplace is misclassified is probably around 7,000. To learn more about this issue, see Downtown Wichita jobs, sort of and Census data for downtown Wichita workers.
For more information on this data, and to access the interactive visualization of this data, see Visualization: Downtown Wichita jobs.