Report: Wichita’s economy will pick up pace, but jobs will lag

A new report projects that the Wichita area economy will accelerate this year, but won’t recover its 2008 employment peak until at least 2018.

IHS Global Insight released its report at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C.

The report calls for Wichita to see a considerable acceleration of its anemic 0.4 percent employment growth in 2013 to 1.6 percent in 2014, or about 4,600 more jobs.

It also calls for the metro economy to grow 2.1 percent in 2014, three times the pace of 2013.

The reports author said that the U.S. is set to accelerate its growth and employment in 2014, and regain its previous peak employment by mid year.

“It’s incredible how deep and how protracted this has been,” said Jim Diffley, an economist with IHS.

Overall, the report forecasts a rosy picture this year and next for the nation: real growth climbing over 3 percent, unemployment falling to 5.9 percent, stronger auto sales and home construction, new highs in the stock market, and inflation remaining below 2 percent.

But Wichita will be among the last in the nation to recover, said Diffley, who wrote the report.

The reason, Diffley said, is that the speed of a city’s recovery depends on the kind of industries it has. Wichita’s reliance on aircraft construction had made its rebound painfully slow.

Wichita stands out from most cities in Texas, the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions which, thanks to production of oil and gas and other commodities, have already recovered their peak employment.