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LinkedIn says Wichita has lost more workers than any other city. But is that correct?

Beautiful views of Wichita as seen by a drone

(FILE VIDEO) Wichitan Tyler Engle and a friend shot some footage with a drone in April 2016 and made a quick video for his Facebook page.
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(FILE VIDEO) Wichitan Tyler Engle and a friend shot some footage with a drone in April 2016 and made a quick video for his Facebook page.

A new report said Wichita lost more workers than any other U.S. city in the past year, though government data suggests the area’s workforce grew in nearly the same time frame.

For every 10,000 LinkedIn members in Wichita, 280 left the city between August 2017 and August 2018, business networking site LinkedIn said in a report Tuesday. It based the report on members who changed the location of their profile during those 12 months.

A LinkedIn official would not say how many members the site has in Wichita; it has 150 million members in the United States.

The top destinations for Wichitans leaving were Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta and New York City, the report said.

Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research, said it’s true that not too long ago the Wichita area was shedding jobs — between July 2016 and April 2018.

“During this same period of time, the U.S. economy was adding jobs every month,” Hill said. “Since the relative labor market was not as strong here, there was a clear incentive for those unemployed to look for jobs in other markets.”

But he doesn’t think that’s the case any longer.

“Our tone has changed quite a bit from the past few years.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the center said the Wichita area’s total labor force — the number of people employed and those who are unemployed but are actively looking for a job — was 313,716 in July 2018, up 170 people from 313,546 in July 2017.

The number of people without jobs fell from 15,019 in July 2017 to 13,585 in July 2018.

The people living in the Wichita area now have found jobs, he said, “and I think the labor market has adjusted.”

He said the area’s biggest employment sector, aerospace, “is doing better today” and there’s optimism on the horizon for that to continue. Other industries are doing well and are adding workers, he said. So what might have been the case for migration out of Wichita a few months ago isn’t the case today.

“As it comes to net migration, I don’t think it should be as much of a concern,” Hill said.

Hill said it’s hard for him to evaluate the LinkedIn report because he doesn’t have the raw data nor its methodology beyond what it states in the report.

He said LinkedIn has “much more rich information” from its users than government data but that it probably doesn’t capture the spectrum of the workforce, such as factory production workers.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people who have moved don’t necessarily update their LinkedIn accounts on time; they might have updated them a year after they moved there,” Hill said. “There’s clearly some strengths and clearly some weaknesses (in LinkedIn data) going on.”

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark
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