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Data: Wichita’s economy shrank in 2017

September 20, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita was the only major metropolitan area in Kansas that didn’t experience economic growth last year, according to new federal data.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released figures this week showing that the Wichita area’s gross domestic product declined 1.4 percent in 2017, the Wichita Eagle reported.

The state’s economy also declined overall, despite positive growth in cities such as Kansas City, Lawrence, Manhattan and Topeka. Kansas was among only three states to have experienced negative economic growth in 2017.

Kansas and Wichita can’t find enough workers, which limits companies’ ability to grow and boost the economy. Job vacancies increased by more than 9 percent throughout Kansas last year.

“We think workforce and talent are really the No. 1 threat to our ability to grow, not only in Wichita but also the state of Kansas,” said Gary Plummer, president and CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Wichita officials said they’re working to address the worker shortage. The merger of Wichita State University and Wichita Area Technical College will produce better-qualified workers, officials said.

Wichita’s shrinking GDP is largely attributable to a decline in the city’s finance, insurance, real estate and rental sector, according to Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

Economic analyst James Chung pointed to Wichita’s population loss. The city has lost more than 18,000 residents over the past decade.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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