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IndustryNet Blog

Manufacturing jobs decline in Kansas

Posted by IndustryNet on Thursday, July 27, 2017

100000074_aircraftworkerAccording to new data released this week by MNI, compiler and publisher of the industrial information that powers IndustryNet, Kansas lost manufacturing jobs over the past year.

MNI reports Kansas lost 1,484 manufacturing jobs from May 2016 to May 2017, or 1%, adding to the general stagnation in manufacturing employment the state has experienced following the sharp losses of the recession.

Our latest post examines a few of the challenges Kansas has faced in the post-recession era, and some of the areas in which Kansas' industrial sector excels:

Post-recession recovery weak as aviation, oil, lose ground

While many states in the nation have recovered significant numbers of jobs lost during the recession, Kansas has struggled to return to pre-recession levels. Over the past six years the Sunflower state has recouped just 12% of the thousands of factory jobs lost during the recession.

The downturn in the aviation industry has persisted, with big employers like Bombardier and Spirit Aerosystems continuing to shed jobs. MNI data shows Kansas’ transportation equipment sector cut 15% of its workforce in the post-recession period.

The transportation equipment industry led losses over the past year, down 2.8% to its current level of 39,180 workers, and remains the state's top sector by manufacturing employment.

Kansas’ oil and gas extraction sector has also suffered greatly in the past several years as jobs dried up due to plunging oil prices. Employment in that sector declined 4.3% in the past year alone.

Budget impasse, weak dollarkansas-manufacturing-2017

Adding to the weakness in the aviation industry, Kansas’ budget shortfall has now grown to crisis proportions after massive tax cuts on personal income were enacted in 2013 by Gov. Sam Brownback.

This has limited the state’s ability to offer capital funding and other incentives to potential employers in the state and appears to have affected economic growth. It remains to be seen what effect last month’s legislation to reverse the Brownback tax cuts will have on the state’s industrial sector.

As with many states across the nation, a weak dollar and global competition have also put a dent Kansas' industrial growth.

Food processing remains Kansas’ bright spot

Despite the challenges Kansas faces, MNI data suggests its industrial sector is gaining ground on several fronts. Food processing employment in Kansas rose sharply, up 4% in the past year to 34,516 jobs. The food products sector should remain steady in the coming years as companies like Mars Candy, which recently ramped up hiring at its large Topeka plant, continue to grow.

Other gains were recorded in stone/clay/glass, up 6%; chemical processing, up 5.4% and paper products, up 3.4%, offsetting losses suffered in the transportation equipment, primary metals, furniture, electronics, and industrial machinery sectors.

Educated workforce 

In addition to its business friendliness, one of Kansas’ greatest assets is arguably its educated workforce, which has become more and more crucial for today’s advanced manufacturing. The state has gone a long way in partnering with colleges and universities to bring more skilled workers to its industrial sector – a key factor in maintaining competitiveness. The Innovative Growth Program, for instance, has helped establish public/private partnerships to foster innovation and economic growth in the state, while the University Engineering Initiative Act, continues to add more engineering grads to Kansas’ industrial workforce.

Looking ahead

Recent data suggests Kansas should see some manufacturing job growth as Triumph begins to hire at its new facility in Edgerton, and Garmin International progresses with a major expansion of its manufacturing and distribution facility in Olathe.

By the numbers

Kansas’ 4,116 industrial companies employ 208,988 workers. Employment losses were sharpest in the state’s Northwest region, which fell by 7.2% to 16,452 jobs. Southeast Kansas accounts for the most industrial employment with 97,242 workers, down 1% over the past year. Wichita jobs were down 1% over the past year, while Lenexa saw a gain of 2.9%.

The top five

Kansas’ top five industries based on number of jobs:

1. Transportation Equipment: 39,180 jobs
2. Food Processing: 34,516 jobs
3. Industrial Machinery: 28,231 jobs
4. Fabricated Metals: 15,655 jobs
5. Printing/Publishing: 11,780 jobs

Kansas’ top five cities for number of manufacturing jobs:

1. Wichita: 53,485 jobs
2. Kansas City: 12,721 jobs
3. Lenexa: 11,467 jobs
4. Topeka 7,815 jobs
5. Olathe: 7,710 jobs

More than a third of industrial workers in Kansas are either employed in transportation equipment or food processing. Here are the state’s top five companies by number of manufacturing jobs:

1. Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. (Wichita) - 11,000 employees.
2. Textron Aviation, Inc. (Wichita) - 5,580 employees
3. Textron Aviation (Wichita) - 3,500 employees
4. General Motors Co. (Kansas City) - 3,426 employees
5. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. (Holcomb) - 3,100 employees

For more information

MNI’s extensive manufacturing data powers IndustryNet, an industrial marketplace that connects buyers with suppliers. IndustryNet allows users to search and source more than ten thousand types of products, parts, supplies, and services for free. IndustryNet lists every U.S. manufacturer plus thousands of wholesalers & distributors and industrial service providers. To connect with industrial suppliers in Kansas and across the U.S. start your free search on IndustryNet. Or, to access detailed profiles of Kansas’ 4,300 manufacturers and their 13,926 executives, learn more about MNI’s EZSelect database subscription.

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