State economic forecast remains murky

The Kansas economy's recent struggles will continue in 2010, a Wichita State University economist said, although the tide may finally be turning.

Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at WSU, said unemployment claims and the aviation sector show some indications of improvement.

"Our leading indicator has a couple of real positive signs," Hill said. "We have initial unemployment claims going down. We have the value of new parts for aviation starting to come up, and we're also seeing aviation stock coming up, which all show some positive signs going into 2010."

Even so, the local economy has a long way to go to recover. Hill said that in 2009 the center's economic index, which is a barometer of the overall health of the economy, was at its lowest since 1994.

"The state economy has had an expansionary period since 2003," Hill said. "Going into 2009, we've had our biggest contraction, about 3.2 percent, which is filtered all through the economy, especially the production sector, which is really pulling us down."