Kansas economy | KCUR

Kansas 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.

Jon Hu stepped away from Wichita State University’s engineering career fair with beads of sweat forming on his face.

Students and the employers who might offer them jobs had crammed into a university ballroom. Most were donned — and overheating — in suits in the crowded room.

“I’ve been wearing this suit for about five hours,” Hu said. “So, yeah. It’s very, very hot in this.”

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Topeka-based Payless ShoeSource is closing all 2,300 of its domestic retail stores, a company spokesperson confirmed to KCUR on Monday. About 1,200 retail stores outside the U.S. are not affected.

The news was first reported by Reuters on Friday. Sources told the news service the company plans to file for bankruptcy, less than two years after emerging from bankruptcy in 2017.

The company began liquidation sales at its American stores on Sunday. Online sales are also being eliminated.

A hot job market and the increasing cost of tuition have slowed the growth in the number of Kansans earning a college education nearly to a halt. Educators are worried that will worsen shortages of high-skilled workers and impede prosperity long term.

Lisa Rodriguez

For 60 years, Spanish Gardens has been making taco sauce in Kansas City, Kansas.

You can find the smooth, bright red sauce in grocery stores across the Midwest, in glass jars embossed with the company's logo.

But that custom touch may be gone a few months from now if Spanish Gardens switches from its glass jar producer in China to one in the United States.

Tariffs imposed on a host of Chinese products, including glass jars, have forced the company to look elsewhere for its containers.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The Royal Theater, once called The Fox Theater, opened in Atchison, Kansas, in 1912 as a vaudeville theater. It later showed films on the silent screen, complete with an in house piano player. They added talkies when they came along in the 1920s.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard revisits a road trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers studying economic development policies say the Legislature should consider changes to a major incentives program next year.

During a meeting Wednesday at the Statehouse, a special committee recommended more study of the STAR bonds program, and members of both parties said they want more oversight.

Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican, said there hasn’t been enough accountability in the program. She wants the state to use formulas that determine whether proposed projects will create enough economic development to outweigh their costs.

Spirit Plans To Add 1,000 New Jobs In Wichita

Dec 6, 2017

Spirit AeroSystems announced a plan Wednesday to add 1,000 new jobs and invest $1 billion in its Wichita facility over the next five years.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

At one point in history, Atchison, Kansas was positioned to be one of the main connecting points for the railways between Missouri and Kansas. The town played an important role in the Civil War, and had many significant residents. But what's going on there today?

KCUR's Central Standard takes a road trip to Atchison. Come along with us.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Every major advancement of African-Americans since the Civil War has been met and opposed by "white rage," says Carol Anderson. Today, she explains how resentful whites have looked to halt the progress of blacks through discriminatory policies, laws, intimidation and violence.

Ken Doll / Kansas Center for Economic Growth

The Sunflower State's budget is a mess and lawmakers in Topeka are struggling to solve the state's fiscal woes. Today, a former budget director evaluates the precarious situation. Also, we speak with novelist Ellen Hopkins, who experienced the kidnapping of one daughter and the drug addiction of another.

Rural Economy Could Suffer As Pessimism Looms

Nov 5, 2016
Massive harvests of corn and soybeans have depressed prices.
file: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The current run of down times for farmers are only going to get worse, according to many farmers.

Nearly 80 percent of the 400 farmers and agricultural producers surveyed in October by Purdue University researchers said they expect bad financial times in the next year, a jump of 11 percentage points since a September survey.

Unsplash / Pixabay

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.

neetalparekh / Flickr--CC

Late this week, Kansans got two interesting pieces of economic data within 24 hours of each other. Let's start with the second: the state's latest jobs report for November.

Gov. Sam Brownback certainly liked what it had to say, based on a Tweet he sent out Friday morning. 

OTA Photos, Flickr

The Kansas budget has been in the national spotlight ever since Governor Sam Brownback signed dramatic tax cuts into law in 2012. Over the past several months, tax revenue has been coming in at lower levels than the state projected. Not surprisingly, the two sides of the political spectrum view the resulting conundrum differently. 

Guests:

  • John Hanna, reporter, The Associated Press
  • David Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute
  • Duane Goossen, former Kansas budget director

Dan Verbeck / kcur

The world’s largest furniture business group IKEA has started construction at its newest site, along the I-35 corridor in Merriam, Kan.

The Swedish retailer is billing itself as a destination attraction and promises 300 permanent jobs.

Five hundred construction jobs are expected in the 18 months to build the complex.

Company officials say further that retail employees working over 20 hours a week get full-time benefits, 401(k) matching and paid vacation.

www.wichita.edu

A new report projects an increase in the rate of job growth in Kansas this year. There are some economic forces that could temper that growth in the future.

The report from Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research projects modest job growth in Kansas this year. It’s driven partially by the energy, construction and services sectors.