Wichita continues to lag behind its peer cities in job growth, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The interactive visualization referenced below lets you select any number of metropolitan areas (or states) and track progress in job growth.
The nearby chart shows Wichita and its Visioneering peer cities (click on charts for larger versions). For about the last ten years Wichita has been in last place in job growth, and by no small margin. It wasn’t always that way. Results like this should cause us to question our economic development strategies and the people and organizations we have charged with managing this effort.
This poor performance of Wichita compared to peers has not gone unnoticed. Minutes from a recent meeting of Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, the primary organization in charge of economic development, holds this paragraph: “As shown in the Chart below Wichita economy suffered the largest loss of employment among peer cities and has not seen any signs of rebounding as the other communities have. Wichita lost 31,000 jobs during the recession principally due to the down turn in general aviation. To improve our local economy we have to add new economic engines to the aviation sector thereby insulating the regional economy from future massive fluctuations.”
Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Visualization created by myself using Tableau Public. Click here to open the visualization in a new window.
The lack of a stable water supply has got to be a problem in attracting potential employers. Kansas sits out here on the high plains. Colorado has dams that impede the water flowing from the Arkansas River. Nebraska cuts off the water flowing into Kansas in the Republican River. So we have to depend on rainfall and that is not always dependable. You can’t tax the people and expect money to produce water. So what is our alternative—limit the number of people coming into Kansas?