Wichita State University has raised its jobs forecast for Wichita and Kansas for 2017, citing an improving national economy.
WSU’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research puts out an annual forecast in October and updates it in January. It will update it again in the spring.
For the Wichita area, the center is now projecting 2,900 new jobs for the year, up about 400 from its earlier call, which is about a 1 percent increase in total jobs from 2016.
The professional and business services sector and the leisure and hospitality sector are expected to have the strongest growth, about 2.3 percent. The education and health services sector is also expected to have above average growth, adding over 800 jobs.
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Jeremy Hill, the center’s director, said the improvement comes largely because of a stronger national economy, and he doesn’t see Wichita key sectors, particularly aircraft manufacturing, contributing greatly to that.
He also cautioned that the boom in commercial construction — hundreds of millions of dollars in new apartment and office projects downtown and around the city — doesn’t mean Wichita’s economy is booming.
“There’s a lot of fancy footwork, but it hasn’t advanced the city much,” he said.
For Kansas, the center now expects about 13,700 new jobs in 2017, up from 12,500 jobs forecast earlier.
Professional and business services are expected to lead overall service sector growth statewide with 3.2 percent growth, or more than 5,000 jobs. The education and health services sector is forecast also to have strong growth, adding over 4,000 jobs.
The predicted job growth of 1 percent in Kansas could be too strong, Hill said. None of the state’s strongest sectors – agriculture, oil and gas production, and manufacturing – are performing particularly well.
And Kansas will be hurt by incoming president Donald Trump’s trade policies because of Kansas’ heavy dependence on trade with Mexico and Canada, particularly in agriculture goods and machinery.
“One percent is pretty darn optimistic, given the context,” Hill said.