Wichita State University's Center for Economic Development and Business Research (CEDBR) recently released an updated Kansas Employment Forecast.

From Oct. 2015 to Oct. 2016, the CEDBR said Kansas employment declined by 0.4 percent, a decrease of approximately 5,300 jobs. The overall average for 2016 Kansas employment is expected to be flat compared to 2015, indicating growth in the last quarter of 2016.

In 2017, Kansas total non-farm employment is forecasted to increase by roughly 13,669 jobs, with an anticipated growth rate of one percent.

“Although the Kansas economy has taken a couple of body blows to agriculture and oil – two of our core economic drivers – the state will likely net out to zero growth by the end of 2016,” says CEDBR Director Jeremy Hill. “The stronger U.S. economic growth will likely help the state last at
least one more round of growth in the economic boxing ring before the next recession hits.”

Production sectors are projected to expand 0.2 percent in Kansas, according to the CEDBR, which would result in the addition of 356 jobs to that sector in 2017.

The natural resources and construction sector is projected to have the strongest growth, expanding by 1.2 percent, while manufacturing employment is forecasted to decline slightly.

In the trade, transportation and utilities sector, the CEDBR claims employment is expected to grow 0.6 percent, adding approximately 1,500 new jobs.

Both wholesale and retail trade subsectors are projected to see employment increases of 0.3 percent, while the trade and transportation subsector is forecasted to grow more rapidly.

The CEDBR noted that the service sectors are anticipated to be the fastest growing segment of the Kansas economy in 2017, adding more than 11,000 jobs for a 1.8 percent employment growth.

In addition, the professional and business services sector is anticipated to lead overall service sector growth with 3.2 percent growth, potentially adding more than 5,000 jobs.

Education and health services sectors are forecasted to also have strong growth, adding more than 4,000 jobs.

The government sector is expected to remain approximately constant in 2017, growing by only 0.1 percent.

Federal and state government sectors are forecast to decline slightly in employment, while the local government sector is anticipated to experience a small amount of growth statewide.

Business Services Director for WorkforceONE Tucky Allen said those growth numbers mean new jobs and new options for local job seekers, which is always good, but they also signify the need to look for more training options to get qualified individuals into those roles.

Allen said the service sector includes public service jobs like police officers, firefighters and EMTs, as well as some customer service positions and hospitality.

Allen said a lot of the service sector's growth (and job growth in general) is likely due to attrition or the loss of workers as they retire.

"It's come to the point to where a lot of our employees that are eligible to retire and are able to retire are looking at doing that," Allen said.

Allen noted that the health care sector is always growing, and job candidates for it are in high demand .

A lot of that is because hospitals are growing, Allen said. On top of that, hospitals work around the clock and often require multiple shifts.

In education, there is also a lot of attrition, Allen said. In his opinion, as schools grow and split into multiple facilities, schools need more and more teachers.

Production is a large sector, Allen noted, so even small growth percentages there suggest the potential for a lot of new jobs.

In Allen's opinion, natural resources and construction sector growth is in reaction to new developments and the business climate.

Jobs in the utilities sector, which Allen said includes electrical lineman and natural gas workers are also in high demand because of attrition. In addition, Allen said cable layers will be in greater and greater demand as Kansas areas are developed and grow.

"I think this is a great year and it's going to really take off," Allen said. 

While agriculture is currently down, Allen said news of potential job growth in other sectors is a positive sign.