Editorials

State nowhere near meeting Brownback’s jobs goal

From January 2015 to January 2016, Kansas added a measly 1,400 nonfarm jobs – far short of Gov. Sam Brownback’s goal of adding 25,000 jobs a year.
From January 2015 to January 2016, Kansas added a measly 1,400 nonfarm jobs – far short of Gov. Sam Brownback’s goal of adding 25,000 jobs a year.

Gov. Sam Brownback set a goal during his 2014 re-election campaign of adding 25,000 jobs each year during his second term. So how is it going so far?

Terribly.

From January 2015 to January 2016, Kansas added a measly 1,400 nonfarm jobs. That’s an annual growth rate of only 0.1 percent – one of the worst rates in the nation.

In comparison, the overall U.S. job growth was 1.9 percent for the same period – nearly 20 times larger.

Kansas also has been losing jobs of late. There were 4,000 fewer seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in January than in December, and private-sector jobs decreased by 3,700, according to a report released last week by the Kansas Department of Labor.

This isn’t the only bad economic news.

The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors met two weeks ago and received its quarterly Indicators of the Kansas Economy report. It showed Kansas still trailing the region and nation in nearly every measure. Some examples:

▪  Kansas’ gross state product dropped by 1.1 percent last year compared with a 0.1 percent average increase for the six-state region and a 2 percent increase nationally.

▪  Building permits decreased by 3.1 percent last year compared with a 1.2 percent increase for the region and 14.2 percent increase nationally.

▪  The number of private establishments in Kansas increased by 1.6 percent compared with a 2.7 percent increase for the region and 2.1 percent nationally.

And other states didn’t pass major tax cuts that left them with large budget shortfalls.

About the only measure on which Kansas ranks better than the region and nation is unemployment rate (though this has been the case since 2008, long before Brownback’s tax cuts). The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4 percent in January, unchanged from December but down from 4.3 percent in January 2015.

The other recent bad news was February’s tax revenue collections, which were $53.5 million less than expected. Collections were less than estimates in nearly every tax category, including individual and corporate income taxes, retail sales, and oil and gas.

Kansas has missed its tax collection estimates 11 times in the past 12 months. But maybe the tax-cut adrenaline that Brownback promised in 2012 will finally kick in and job creation will take off.

The state only has to average about 33,000 additional jobs a year to still meet Brownback’s four-year goal. That’s possible, isn’t it?

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