Steady Job Growth Numbers in Kansas, Too Early to Analyze Impacts of Senate Bill 30

September 29, 2017

New job growth and unemployment numbers for Kansas were released last week. The numbers showed a slight increase in job growth from the previous month, with 800 new jobs added in August. The numbers also showed a slight increase of 0.2% in unemployment, which measures people who are jobless, actively seeking work, and available to take a job. Senate Bill 30, which ended the Brownback tax experiment, went into effect July 1, 2017, and some are looking to this new data for signs of the impact of the bill on job growth. However, despite job growth increasing slightly, it is too early to attribute job growth, unemployment, or general economic recovery to the new law. The legislation will take time to reverse the budgetary damage, as the impacts of the 2012 tax plan are long-lasting.

The new numbers highlight the following:

  • Job Growth: The number of nonfarm jobs grew by 800, with the increase offset by decreases in government job estimates and temporary manufacturing layoffs.
  • Unemployment: The number of unemployed Kansans, or Kansans actively looking for work, increased by 1,700 to 57,308.

Unemployment

August 2017

July 2017 Percent Change

Kansas

3.9% 3.7%

0.2%

Arkansas

3.5% 3.4%

0.1%

Colorado

2.4% 2.4%

0.0%

Iowa

3.3% 3.2%

0.1%

Missouri

4.0% 3.8%

0.2%

Nebraska

2.8% 2.8%

0.0%

Oklahoma 4.5% 4.4%

0.1%

Source: Kansas Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Market Report. August 2017. https://www.dol.ks.gov/Uploads/Aug_2017_Release.pdf

 

Job Growth (Non-Farm, Seasonally Adjusted)

August 2017
(in thousands)

 July 2017
 (in thousands)

Total Change

Kansas

1,401.9 1,401.1

800

Arkansas

1,251.9 1,259.1

-7,200

Colorado

2,655.3 2,650.9

4,400

Iowa 1,590.1 1,587.8

2,300

Missouri

2,900.6 2,900.4

200

Nebraska

1,027.1 1,029.6

-2,500

Oklahoma

1,669.0 1,665.1

3,900

Source: Kansas Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Market Report. August 2017. https://www.dol.ks.gov/Uploads/Aug_2017_Release.pdf

Neighboring states experienced similar increases in unemployment rates between July and August, although the overall unemployment rate ranges from 2.4% in Colorado to 4.4% in Oklahoma, with Kansas at 3.9%.

Although neighboring states had similar percentage increases in unemployment, they had different increases in job growth. Kansas’ small increase of 800 jobs between July and August was in the middle of the pack. Colorado added 4,400 jobs, while Arkansas lost 7,200 jobs.

It might be appealing to attribute the increase in job growth to Senate Bill 30 or to blame the increase in unemployment on the new legislation. However, it is too early to attribute any changes to the recent legislative action and we still have similar unemployment rates to our historical average.  As the other states in the region show, monthly fluctuations happen with or without major legislative activity. A better indicator is to look at the overall job growth trend since the Brownback tax plan went into effect in January 2013. Since its implementation, Kansas’ job growth has lagged behind both the region and the nation.

As we’ve previously noted, Kansas enjoyed a low unemployment rate and high private job growth when the state was making investments in the things that are proven to create a solid base for job growth – schools, safe and healthy communities, and roads. While the reversal of Governor Brownback’s damaging tax plan through Senate Bill 30 has helped to stop the bleeding in Kansas, the state will need more time and further investment to fully rebound.

ClaySteady Job Growth Numbers in Kansas, Too Early to Analyze Impacts of Senate Bill 30