Eagle editorial: Kansas trailing on job growth

05/15/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:24 AM

Gov. Sam Brownback has bragged about the number of new jobs created since he became governor. But how does Kansas compare with the nation and other states? Hint: It isn’t that great.

Nonfarm employment in Kansas – the measure Brownback has cited – increased nearly 46,000 jobs from January 2011 through March 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though that may seem impressive, a Kansas City Star editorial noted that Kansas’ job growth rate for that period was less than the rates in the nation and surrounding states.

•  Colorado, up 8.2 percent.
•  Oklahoma, up 5.6 percent.
•  U.S. average, up 5.5 percent.
•  Nebraska, up 4 percent.
•  Missouri, up 3.7 percent.
•  Kansas, up 3.4 percent.

But how has the state done since Brownback’s income tax cuts kicked in January 2013 – which he said would act “like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy”? In nonfarm job growth, Kansas still trails the nation and all neighboring states except Nebraska.

It’s not only editorial boards that have noticed the slow growth.

Moody’s Investors Service cited “Kansas’ relatively sluggish recovery compared with its peers” as one reason it recently downgraded Kansas’ bond rating. A report in March by the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors also noted that Kansas’ private-sector employment growth rate was lower than the nation’s and the average for the six-state region.

Kansas may be on the road to recovery, but compared with others, it’s being left in the dust.

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee

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