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Economy

Kansas City Adding Advanced Industry Jobs Faster Than Most Metros

Ford_1.JPG
Dan Verbeck
/
KCUR 89.3
Production of the Ford F-150 at Ford's Claycomo Plant has spurred growth in Kansas City's advanced industry sector.

Kansas City is near the top of a list of cities that are growing advanced industry.

That’s the latest from The Brookings Institution – and good news after a 2014 report found some troubling economic indicators here in the metro.

“Put it short, these are the industries that matter most people they have the highest productivity, the greatest innovation, they tend to export, and they pay really well,” says the report’s author, senior policy fellow Mark Muro.

Brookings defines “advanced industry” as one that spends at least $450 per worker per year on research and development and employs at least 20 percent of the workforce in STEM-intensive occupations.

In Kansas City, No. 5 on the list for annual advanced industry growth, Muro says the two big sectors are auto manufacturing and, increasingly, digital services.

“Auto plants specifically have unusually long supply chains and produce inordinate amounts of other economic activity,” Muro says.

Muro cautions that production of the Ford F-150 at Claycomo may not be enough to stimulate Kansas City’s economy long-term. But he says it’s encouraging that the region is adding tech jobs just as fast.

Advanced industries employ more than 100,000 full-time workers in the region, according to the report. Those jobs support another 87,000 indirect jobs in other industries.

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