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Wichita economic statistics

Following are some updated charts of economic data on Wichita. These charts may be useful to voters as they evaluate claims made by candidates for the upcoming election.

Here is a chart of Wichita general fund spending. Actual dollars along with dollars adjusted for inflation are shown. Figures beyond 2012 are estimates.

The following chart presents inflation-adjusted spending per person. Interestingly, this value has remained within a relatively small range for two decades. One interpretation of this chart is that the city is doing a good job keeping spending under control. But with the city cutting services and continually sending a message of budgetary distress, we might want to question something else.

Here is a chart of Wichita bonded debt.

Considering job growth, here is a chart comparing the number of private sector jobs in the U.S., Kansas, and Wichita. I’ve also presented Kansas jobs less Wichita jobs, so as to distinguish the State of Kansas from the City of Wichita. This data is indexed, with 1990 values set to 100, so that we can see relative growth. While Wichita more or less kept up during the 1990s, since then Wichita’s performance in creating jobs has fallen behind the nation and our state.

Comparing Wichita job growth by sector, we see that while government jobs have grown, the private sector lags behind.

When looking at the growth in gross domestic product, we again see that Wichita lags behind the state and nation, except in one area: growth of local government. Again, this data is indexed so that we can see relative changes. This data presents the Wichita MSA (metropolitan area), as that is the data the Bureau of Economic Analysis makes available. Wichita dominates the MSA, but these figures are not solely representative of the City of Wichita.

We’re also told that the city’s efforts to redevelop downtown Wichita are building up the tax base, and that many millions of dollars in the value of projects have been completed. But as the following chart shows, the assessed valuation of property in downtown Wichita is declining.

Wichita downtown self-supporting municipal improvement district (SSMID) assessed property valuation

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5 Comments

  1. ictator March 24, 2013

    It would be interesting to extend this analysis to both the Wichita schools, where their budget has grown rapidly to well over $610 million a year with only about 50,000 students (that’s over $12,000 per pupil per year despite the liberal Kansas media that only talks about base state aid funding levels) and county spending.

    Wichita city spends over $1/2 billion a year. The county tops $400 million. If you add those three together, you are over $1.5 billion a year in a county with 1/2 million people. This figure excludes the 18 other cities spending as well as 8 other school districts, a bunch of townships, and some special tax districts too.

    I do the basic math: $1.5 billion divided by 1/2 million people is $3,000 per person. That figure excludes federal and state spending (excluding k-12 that is part of this calculation) that would increase that burden. The problem this nation faces is the over sized and bloated government and our diminishing ability to pay for it.

    The dream is dying as Greece, or should I say, Cyprus beckons us onto the fiscal rocks.

  2. Queen of Hearts March 25, 2013

    Based on your graphs, Wichita looks like they’ve done a reasonable job on maintaining a control on spending. Too bad you don’t have all the relevant information. For instance, Wichita’s population has grown from approximately 304,000 in 1990 to approximately 385,000 today. Also, it would be helpful if you would show the city’s overall valuation in comparison between 1990 and 2012, especially as it pertains to debt and debt ratios.

    You often play loose with information and this is another example. The city’s finances are much more complex than what is seldom shown here.

  3. Bob Weeks Post author | March 25, 2013

    Regarding the growth in population: do you know what “per capita” means?

  4. Queen of Hearts March 25, 2013

    Yes. Your first graph is gross spending. Your second graph is per capita adjusted for inflation and appears that the 2012 per capita expenditure is about the average over the graphed year which is why I stated the city has done a reasonable job. Your third graph appears to show gross bonded debt, which is just part of the picture as it should also show it as a percentage of total budget and as a percentage of total valuation within the city. Your last two graphs reflect jobs and economic output, which have less to do with local government spending and more to do with the state of the world economy.

  5. Queen of Hearts March 30, 2013

    Well, Bob, do you have no response?

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