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In Kansas, You May Have To Commute For High Wages


More Kansans are commuting to work than were in 2010.

That’s the latest from the Wichita State-based Center for Economic Development and Business Research, which on Thursday released an occasional report on Kansans’ commuting patterns.

“The choices about where we work are driven by the business cycle and what’s happening in that industry,” Pattie Bradley, senior research economist, says. “The choices we make about where to live are much more varied.”

Schools, crime, the cost and availability of housing, other amenities – all factor into the decisions people make.

In total, about 1 percent more workers work in Kansas than live there. On the Kansas side of the metro, the number of workers commuting to Wyandotte, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Linn counties increased the daytime population by 20,573 workers.

But the number of Kansans leaving those counties for work has increased, too, by 5.3 percent since 2010.

WATCH: The Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University illustrates the commuting patterns of Kansans.

Though the study didn’t track whether Kansans were crossing the state line for work, Bradley says it’s safe to assume many of those workers are commuting to Missouri.

“In the Kansas City area, there’s definitely a line for income,” she says. “Higher wage earners are commuting more, lower wage earners are commuting less.”

That’s not the case elsewhere in the state.

“In Wichita, the big story has been in manufacturing employment,” Bradley says. “If we look at the Topeka area, there’s been a significant increase in job growth in education and health care.”

In Topeka, it’s higher wage workers who are likely to commute in. In Manhattan, the opposite is true – it’s the higher wage workers commuting out, with the lower wage workers commuting in. About 2,084 workers leave Manhattan during the day, likely due to activity at nearby Fort Riley, Bradley says.

As for takeaways, Bradley says while it’s good that so many high income earners are living on the Kansas side of the state line, ideally they’d work there, too.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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