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Wichita jobs and momentum

Given recent data and the CEDBR forecasts, Wichita’s momentum is a slowly growing economy, with the rate of growth declining.

The Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University provides forecasts for the Wichita economy. In October, CEDBR wrote, “Total nonfarm employment in the Wichita metropolitan area grew 1.2 percent in 2018, with 3,500 new jobs created to bring the area’s employment to 298,600 workers. This was a turnaround after Wichita’s total employment declined by 2,200 jobs in 2017.” 1

The October update didn’t forecast employment growth for the remainder of the current year, but in May, the report forecast, “Wichita’s employment expansion is forecast to continue in 2019 with 0.9 percent employment growth, adding more than 2,700 new jobs to the metropolitan area.” 2

For the first nine months of 2019, Wichita jobs have grown from 301,600 in January to 302,600 in September, using seasonally adjusted data. 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. Given this data, it seems unlikely that the CEDBR forecast of 0.9 percent will be met.

For 2020, CEDBR wrote in its October forecast, “For 2020, growth is expected to be more modest, as the Wichita economy is projected to add approximately 1,600 new jobs and grow 0.5 percent.”

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The reports mention declining unemployment rates. By itself, the unemployment rate tells us little, as it is the ratio of two numbers, the number of unemployed people divided by the labor force. Wichita’s low rate is mostly due to a declining, then slowly growing, labor force.

To summarize, job growth in 2018 was 1.2 percent, forecast to be 0.9 percent in 2019 (but unlikely to meet that), and forecast to be 0.5 percent in 2020. (Recall that Wichita lost jobs in 2017.)

Some candidates for local office in Wichita are campaigning on their record while in office, saying Wichita needs to build on its momentum. Given recent data and the CEDBR forecasts, Wichita’s momentum is a slowly growing economy, with the rate of growth declining.


Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
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