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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
Tue July 2, 2013
Rural Kansas Counties Buck Traditional Employment Trends
Typically, cities fuel job growth, but a recent article in the Wichita Eagle reveals urban employment levels in Kansas are level, while rural areas are experiencing growth. Much of the rural improvements can be attributed to increased oil drilling, oil services, overall farming wealth increase, and government transfers like Medicare.
The positive job increases break a 70-year depopulation trend in rural counties. Three-fifths of the 46 counties, with less than 10,000 people, realized job growth. Johnson County experienced the greatest advance. Ellis County was second with an over all improvement of 19,302 jobs. Finney County's Garden City, as well as Ford County's Dodge City, both experienced increases due to oil drilling and wind farm related employment. Dodge City also added the casino.
Rawlins County in the northwest corner had an amazing 28.87% increase.
However, rural does not equate improvement. Counties without wind or oil appear to be continuing the depopulation trend.
Wichita experienced the largest employment loss, dropping 9,000 jobs since 2008. Experts say the loss is not a mystery. The Kansas Department of Labor non-farm job survey reveals there are 11,000 less aircraft construction jobs in the state than five years ago. About half of those were Wichita aircraft manufacturing positions. No improvement is expected in the coming year.