WSU reins in its forecast for new jobs in 2014

01/08/2014 9:43 AM

01/09/2014 10:04 AM

Wichita State University forecasters have revised downward their Wichita area jobs forecast for 2014.

The Center for Economic Development and Business Research is calling for nearly 2,700 jobs to be added to the Wichita metro economy this year, a 0.5 percent increase from 2013.

That’s twice the number of jobs the center estimates were added in 2013. But it’s less than the 3,400 jobs the center predicted at its annual forecast breakfast in October.

Almost all of the new jobs will come in the service sector, particularly business and professional services. That includes a wide range of jobs – from accountants to janitors.

The center is predicting job growth in the state of Kansas at 1.1 percent, which is below the national forecast of 1.4 percent.

Some of the revisions in the local forecast are the result of tweaking the model the center uses, said center director Jeremy Hill.

“We’ve tried to bring our model down because it’s been overly optimistic,” he said.

The center’s forecast has consistently overestimated the number of jobs being added in the local economy since the recovery began in 2009.

Generally, Hill said, he remains more optimistic than in the past, at least for the long term. Some of the big questions hanging over the local and national economy last year appear to have been settled, such as the Affordable Care Act and the partial government shutdown.

The United States grew 4.1 percent in the third quarter, and corporate profits – an indicator of future corporate jet demand – remain strong. Even the European Union is growing again, he said.

Yet, he doesn’t see this helping Wichita much in 2014. There’s no indication that the city’s jet makers will start hiring heavily anytime soon: Boeing is still in the process of disappearing from Wichita; Textron is acquiring Beechcraft; and Bombardier Learjet just announced furloughs for the first half of the year.

The corporate aircraft companies will hire only once they develop backlogs, and that hasn’t happened yet.

The forecast also calls for a small decline in the combined local federal, state and local government workforce.

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