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Report: Wichita to lose jobs in '11

The Wichita area will see a slight decline in jobs during 2011, according to a revised forecast by Wichita State University's Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

The report released Tuesday predicts the area will lose about 165 jobs, 0.1 percent loss from the total workforce. That's down from a gain of 1,600 jobs, a 0.6 percent gain, predicted in January, mainly because of an unexpected slowing in the national economy.

In Kansas, the center predicts a gain of nearly 5,000 jobs, less than one-half of one percent, in 2011.

In Wichita, job losses in manufacturing, construction and services will more than offset gains in government, trade and transportation.

After some strong quarters late in 2010, the national economic growth in the first quarter was weaker than expected, at 1.8 percent, said center director Jeremy Hill.

"That's not as strong as we thought it would be," he said.

Hill said that local manufacturers will continue to trim jobs here and there. Local aircraft producers still haven't felt the strong recovery that most other U.S. manufacturers have.

Cessna reported sale were up nearly 30 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2010, although Hawker Beechcraft's sales were down year over year.

Hill said he expects to see larger-scale hiring in aircraft manufacturing begin later this year.

Hill said he isn't worried about the effect of high oil prices on the local economy, yet. If oil continues to rise, and wages remain stuck, there will be a trouble later in the year.

"If it's $125 a barrel, that's not a problem," he said, "but if it gets to $150, we'll talk about price instability, and that's bad."

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