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Sedgwick County wage growth among nation’s worst

Average wage growth in Sedgwick County ranked among the worst in the nation in the second quarter, the most recent data available.

The average wage in the county was $836 per week, a fall of 0.8 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, ranking the county 331st of the nation’s 340 largest counties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Total wages paid by all employers to all employees rose slightly, but the number of employees rose slightly faster — 1.2 percent, also very weak at 222nd worst in the nation — meaning the average worker earned less.

Average wage growth was much better elsewhere in Kansas: 2.3 percent statewide; 4.3 percent in Wyandotte County; 3 percent in Johnson County; and 0.6 percent in Shawnee County.

Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University, said he isn’t surprised by the weak number.

Manufacturing, and aircraft manufacturing in particular, has been holding down the local economy, he said.

He said the large pool of unemployed manufacturing workers means that employers are able to keep wages relatively low, offer minimal raises and offer lower starting wages to new hires.

“Weakness in aircraft drives other sectors,” he said. “So there’s weakness in real estate, there’s weakness in retail.”

But, he said, demand in some categories of jobs is tightening up. He expects to see stronger wage growth in 2015.

“It’s only picking up from where we are locally this year,” he said. “It’ll still be behind Kansas and the U.S.”

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

Average wages

Here are the average weekly wages for Sedgwick County for the full year:

2005

$719

2006

$777

2007

$793

2008

$807

2009

$801

2010

$809

2011

$834

2012

$856

2013

$858

Souce: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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