The Associated Press
August 19, 2015

Kansas is missing out on manufacturing employment growth the nation as a whole is experiencing, a new report finds.

The state saw a 0.9 percent decline in manufacturing employment between June 2014 and 2015, losing about 1,400 manufacturing jobs, according to a report released Tuesday by the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, which Gov. Sam Brownback established in 2011 to track the health of the state’s economy and advise him on economic policy. During that same period, the nation saw 1.3 percent growth in manufacturing, adding 160,000 jobs, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Dan Lara, deputy secretary of public affairs with Kansas Department of Commerce, said in an email that the state lost 39,000 manufacturing jobs during the recession and has gained back only about 4,000. As of June, the state has about 162,300 manufacturing jobs, 10.2 percent less than it had 10 years ago.

The report shows the United States grew total nonfarm jobs at a rate of 2.1 percent, while Kansas gained at a rate of 0.9 percent over the course of a year.

Kansas also is gaining private-sector jobs at a slower pace than both the region and the nation, the report shows. Between June 2014 and 2015, private-sector job growth was 1.1 percent in Kansas, compared with 2.4 percent nationally and 1.6 percent cumulatively in six states in the region — Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas, according to the report.

Lara said in an email that Kansas’ slower job growth rate is because “our employment is at full strength (under 4 percent) in many areas of state. So, yes (we) will grow slower than other states with higher unemployment.”

Annie McKay, executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, a Topeka think tank, said “the key piece to remember is that those states around us didn’t enact unprecedented tax cuts to grow their economies,” referring to income tax cuts the GOP-controlled Legislature enacted at Brownback’s urging.

The governor’s spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, was largely dismissive of the report. “While the report compares June over a number of years, it is only a comparison of one month in a year, not a look at the totality of private sector job growth,” Hawley said in an email.

“We are seeing consistent growth in private sector jobs and faster private hourly wage growth than the nation and all neighboring states, with the exception of Colorado,” she added.

But Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Democrat from Topeka, called Hawley’s comments laughable.

“His own people put this report out,” Hensley said, “and yet they still cannot acknowledge that the numbers are bad.”

Read more from the Associated Press here.

KendraASSOCIATED PRESS: Report: Kansas missing out on manufacturing job growth