It’s been a tough 12 months in the Wichita area, with just 0.1 percent job growth since May 2014.
But hiring should speed up during the rest of 2015, and the Wichita area will end the year with about 2,500 more jobs, or an 0.8 percent increase, according to the latest forecast from the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.
The center makes an annual forecast in October and has started issuing revisions to the forecast in January and May.
The center is also forecasting about 18,900 more jobs statewide, which means a 1.4 percent growth in Kansas jobs. That would be faster than the state’s 1.1 percent growth rate over the past 12 months but is still slower than national job growth. The nation’s job growth rate over the past 12 months is at 2.1 percent.
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The latest forecast for the Wichita area is a downgrade from earlier predictions.
In October, center director Jeremy Hill forecast that the Wichita metro area would add 4,500 jobs for the year, or 1.5 percent growth. In January, he downgraded that to 4,228 new jobs.
Then came the Learjet announcement of 620 job losses, job cuts in the oil industry, continued low grain prices and a stronger dollar, which hurts job creation among agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
“The first quarter came in more negative than expected in some key sectors,” Hill said.
The center expects that the decrease in manufacturing jobs early in the quarter will recover to zero by the end of the year.
The strongest area in the forecast is the education and health services sector – expected to increase by more than 1,000 new jobs. The professional and business services sector and the leisure and hospitality sector are expected to each add more than 500 jobs.
The forecast calls for a drop in government jobs statewide of nearly 400 during 2015.