Forecast: Kansas jobs to increase by 24,000 in 2013

10/09/2013 2:53 PM

08/06/2014 1:16 AM

The number of jobs in Kansas will rise by more than 24,000 in 2013, an increase of 1.8 percent in the total number, according to a forecast by Wichita State University.

The forecast by the university’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research foresees weak job growth, hindered by uncertainty, said center director Jeremy Hill.

The biggest gains will be business and professional services, which includes temp jobs, with nearly 9,000 new jobs, according to the forecast.

Not far behind are health care, with about 5,300 new jobs, and restaurants, hotels and related businesses, with about 3,200 new jobs.

Government will be the big loser with about 1,600 jobs lost statewide, although center director Jeremy Hill said that the estimate could be low, and the number could be substantially higher because of state and local budget cuts.

Unemployment has decreased over the past two years across the state, Hill said. The August rate was 6.2 percent.

“It is definitely showing a path where the state economy is doing better,” he said. “6.2 percent is not that bad.”

But he noted that the economy hasn’t added many jobs and that many people have left the ranks of job-seekers, which tends to lower the unemployment rate.

“So there is weakness to it,” he said.

Hill said consumers have shown they want to buy and businesses want to expand, but are being held back by several large clouds: the crisis in the eurozone, the slowdown among developing nations such as China and Brazil, and the presidential election.

“Last year the economy felt really weak, really tired,” he said. “The tone has changed significantly this year. They feel a lot better, but there are just some things preventing them from moving forward.”

The biggest concern, he said, is the fiscal cliff, a combination of federal tax increases and budget cuts that start Jan. 1. They could affect the state through higher taxes and sizable cuts to government spending here, such as on the military.

And, he said, at the state level, businesses may have welcomed the large tax cuts from the Legislature this year, but they are still anxious about the change.

Despite those drawbacks, he said people and businesses overall are showing evidence that they are ready to spend more, he said.

“Kansas is a little more cautious than the nation as a whole, but people are still wanting to buy,” he said. “And loans in Kansas for small business have gone up. I think they are wanting to move forward.”

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