economy | KCUR

economy

News coverage of the economy.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Over the last five years, almost 15,000 workers disappeared from the Kansas workforce.

During the same timeframe, the state is growing economically, with a recent monthly report showing 14,000 jobs created in the last year and unemployment at 3.3%. That’s below the national rate. 

Despite the good news, Kansas officials see a long-term challenge: having enough employees to fill the state’s jobs, especially in high-demand careers like nursing and accounting.

Segment 1: The most reliable source of qualified teachers now produces half the candidates it once did.

The number of undergraduate education degrees awarded every year peaked in the early 1970s at almost 194,000. Today that number is less than 92,000. Two college deans discuss the challenges of bringing future teachers into the education major, meeting the need for special education and bilingual educators, and graduating teachers more reflective of today's diverse communities.

File photo / Kansas City Business Journal

Cerner Corp. will lay off 255 of its U.S. employees in an effort to boost operating margins to 20% by the end of the year. Workers will be notified throughout the day on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.

Seg. 1: Technology In Prison | Seg. 2: Unidentified

Aug 19, 2019

Segment 1: A KU research team got a grant to bring technology training to women's prisons.

The population of women in U.S. prisons has risen 834 percent over the past 40 years. More than half of the women now in prison are mothers of children under 18. After interruptions in their educations and resumes, technology training could help them begin planning for re-entry.

Segment 1: Creating a winning bid for major events

The U.S. Gymnastics Championship this weekend and the NFL Draft in 2023— what do they have in common? They will both take place in Kansas City, Missouri. Visit KC and the Kansas City Sports Commission played roles in bringing these events to town. The CEOs of both explained a process that can take years and described what they think makes the metro appealing to those looking for a host city. 

Segment 1: The Kansas City Public Library has joined a movement toward eliminating late fees.

Following the announcement that the Kansas City Public Library is no longer charging late fees, we dig into the reasoning behind the decision, as well as the larger movement it's a part of.

Seg. 1: Micro-Apartments | Seg. 2: Dad Jokes Beer

Jun 6, 2019

Segment 1: Affordability of Micro-Apartments

Developers plan to include micro-apartments as an option for "affordable housing" in the Midland building downtown. The plan has inspired an outcry from skeptical Kansas Citians: Is paying $750 for a tiny apartment truly affordable? A housing advocate and a business journalist weigh in.

Segment 1: Why we don't fix things any more, and why that matters.

There's a national movement encouraging people to learn how to fix things as an antidote to consumer waste and excess spending. But fix-it-yourself workshops happening around the country are having trouble getting off the ground in Kansas City. Our guests give the spiels they'd deliver at such workshops, if they did exist here.

Advice For High School Graduates

May 22, 2019

Graduation season is upon us, which means celebration and cliché advice. But a lot of the age-old wisdom doesn't quite ring true in today's changing world. Hear about the helpful and not-so-helpful nuggets doled out to high school seniors. Plus, Kansas Citians share their own tips.

Guests:

Segment 1: Hamilton Mania.

Hamilton is one of Broadway's biggest productions in decades — and it's coming to Kansas City this summer. In this conversation, we tap into the mania surrounding a musical about one of America's lesser-known founding fathers.

Segment 1: Modern Monetary Theory.

A brand of unconventional economics is garnering a lot of attention after being touted by politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. It's called Modern Monetary Theory (often abreviated MMT) and UMKC is known for it. Why is that, and how will it affect political discourse moving forward?

Bethany Wood / For the Kansas News Service

DODGE CITY — Check out Dodge City.

A new $12 million waterpark. A shiny new craft brewery — not far from the new whiskey distillery. And, yes, that trendy new downtown cafe.

A nearly $6 million addition to Boot Hill Museum just kicked off last fall. That’s about when Dodge City wrapped up $86 million in renovations and expansions to its schools.

Segment 1: There is one month left in the 2019 filing season.

After being told to expect smaller refunds, new IRS data is now showing the average refund is greater than it was at this point in 2018. Two tax experts helped clear the confusion as they discussed withholding changes, eliminated tax breaks, and new caps on itemized deductions. 

Segment 1: What happens to a community without access to a four-year college?

The majority of college freshmen enroll at schools within 50 miles from home. But what if there isn't a four-year university nearby? In this conversation, we take a look at the effects education deserts have on communities and how Dodge City, Kansas, is looking to address theirs.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

KANSAS CITY — Seventy hours a week got old. Fast. So did working multiple jobs.

So Joseph Cowsert wept tears of joy and relief the day he got word while bathing his baby daughter that UPS was offering him a 40-hour-a-week position in web development.

“It was like a burden lifted off of me,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was weighing so heavily.”

Seg. 1: Boomer Entrepreneurs. Seg. 2: Terry Teachout

Feb 28, 2019

Segment 1: More baby boomers are choosing to open up their own businesses. 

Retirement? Not for these people. Despite the trope of the young, millennial entrepreneur, research shows that people between 55 and 64 make up about a quarter of new entrepreneurs. In this conversation, we talk with an author who's reported on this trend and a 69-year-old businessowner who's living it. 

Segment 1: Teacher pay in Missouri comes in almost dead last compared to the other 50 states.

Missouri places 49th in a study ranking teacher pay state-by-state. In this conversation, we discuss why that is and look into how the issue affects local educators.

Chris Neal / Kansas News Service

Life is expensive. Rent, health care, raising a family, saving for retirement — it adds up. But so does college debt. In fact, the cost of college shot up many times faster than typical U.S. earnings in recent decades.

So, what to do after high school? Here’s what you need to know.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — The glittery gold print on Cara Simon’s graduation cap begged — maybe only half-jokingly — for a break: “Can I take a nap now?”

Toilsome college coursework may have kept the Wichita native up at night, but looking for a job won’t. Simon lined one up at an emergency room before even graduating — one of the benefits of earning a nursing degree.

“It’s so versatile,” she said. “You can work in a million different places. You can work in any state. It’s exciting.”

Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke compared the national economy to a Looney Tunes character: magically floating in the air for a moment after running off a cliff before inevitably plummeting in 2020.

Segment 1: Decline in history majors raises question: what's the future of our past? 

New data shows a drop in the number of history majors at colleges in the United States. So what does it mean for the future of our history, if there are fewer people studying it?

Tyler Silvest

A global transportation and supply chain management company is shuttering its Edgerton, Kansas, location, putting 136 people out of work. 

XPO Logistics operates on about 11 acres of the 1,700-acre Logistics Park, a rail intermodal and warehouse district that has been a boon for the Edgerton economy. The district also hosts corporate giants like Amazon, UPS and a terminal of the BNSF railway.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

New data from the Washington Post suggests the Kansas City area is missing out on $10 million a week from government contracts as the shutdown stretches on. That’s in addition to the thousands of federal workers not getting paid. Those missed paychecks for contractors and employees alike have placed a heavy burden on both budgets and families.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service.

Erin Wolfram, with the University of Kansas Career Center, enters a small room in Summerfield Hall on the KU campus, where she is suddenly surrounded by hundreds of suits, dresses, shirts and ties filling floor-to-ceiling racks. The Professional House of Garments is filled with clothes waiting to help students dress for success as they prepare for job and internship interviews.

Spirit AeroSystems announced Wednesday it will add 1,400 new jobs over the course of the next year.

 

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

The cable guy

President Donald Trump is making noises about issuing an executive order that would undo birthright citizenship in the country. He contends he has the authority, through executive order, to deny U.S. citizenship to children born in the country if their parents are here illegally.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Why not Wyandotte

Wyandotte County has long represented undeveloped political muscle for Kansas Democrats. Lots of Democrats there. Not nearly as many Democrats who show up to vote.

Mobilizing that potential could, maybe, mean trouble for incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, whose district includes both Wyandotte and Johnson counties. And in close statewide races (think this year’s contest for governor), a big turnout in Kansas City, Kansas, could be a gamechanger.

Allen Brewer / Flickr-CC

The Kansas City economy is growing at a rapid but unsustainable rate, according to an economic forecast report released Friday by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

Cranes dot the skyline and construction contracts have jumped by half since this time last year, but despite a building boom, Kansas City’s economy is not keeping pace with either the national economy or similarly sized cities, according to the report.

Segment 1: Growing up poor in the Heartland.

Local journalist and author Sarah Smarsh has been getting a lot of national attention for her new book, Heartland. On this episode, we chat with Smarsh about the forces that shaped her Kansas childhood.

The Kansas economy has been sluggish the past few years, but the candidates running for governor each have a plan to jumpstart things.

Will any of them actually work?

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