Area job growth predicted but far less than elsewhere

Kansas City regional job growth is expected to return to what once was normal but will lag behind the nation for years, a local expert said today.

Frank Lenk, research services director for Mid-American Regional Council, spoke today to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and released his local economic forecast.

It predicts the city economy will add 16,500 jobs by the end of the year, up from 8,500 jobs last year.

But while the nation and city economies are doing better than anytime since the great recession, city economic growth will continue to lag behind the nation, Link reported, as it has through most of the 2000s.

“This implies regional leaders must continue to focus on the drivers of regional economic prosperity – clusters of firms that trade with the rest of the world, high quality human capital and increased innovation and entrepreneurship – if Kansas City hopes to remain a globally competitive region,” he said.

That meshes with a recent MARC and Brookings Institution report that found that area jobs and wages grew at half the pace of the national average for the decade ending in 2011.

Some civic leaders have said such findings are too gloomy, the Kansas City Star reported today, but  its own analysis supports gloom.

From the Star editorial: “Numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the metropolitan area placed an abysmal 21st out of 25 regions in job growth from June 2011 to June of this year.”

It added, “The 25 included many Midwestern cities that the Kansas City area competes against for jobs and residents.”

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