April 2012

Lackluster growth is better than no growth

The national employment data for March released a few weeks ago — only 120,000 net new jobs — was, by all accounts, disappointing. The Kansas City area saw a similar lackluster performance. Area employment remained virtually unchanged, while the labor force dropped slightly, leading to a very small drop in the unemployment rate.

As mentioned before in this newsletter, the region needs to see sustained growth in both the labor force and employment. When the growth in employment steadily outpaces the growth in labor force, there will be a drop in the unemployment rate we can actually feel good about — instead of the glimpses of positive news seen so far in this recovery.

Help-wanted ads continue to be strong, but it is somewhat puzzling that this apparent increase in employer demand has not yet translated into growing employment numbers. This may be due to job churn — that is, advertising to fill existing jobs where there is high turnover. One position could be advertised multiple times in a year if the turnover is high.

Kansas City still remains in the middle of the pack compared to selected peer metros based on February’s unemployment rate. High growth metros like Austin and Dallas continue to have lower unemployment rates, as do metros that did not feel the recession as badly, such as Omaha and Oklahoma City.


Upcoming Events

Next Generation Rail Supply Chain Forum
May 3, 8 a.m., Union Station

Regional Workforce Intelligence Network
June 6, 10 a.m., MARC Offices

2012 Regional Workforce Summit
June 27, 7:30–11:30 a.m., Kauffman Center, featuring a speaker from Monster on Real-Time Labor Market Intelligence

Regional Green Jobs Task Force
July 24, 10 a.m., MARC offices


About RWIN

MARC developed the Regional Workforce Intelligence Network to encourage greater collaboration among the region's workforce data and information professionals. RWIN is a collaboration of economic development professionals, one-stop centers, workforce centers, community colleges and universities that meets on a monthly basis. For more information, visit www.kcworkforce.com.


Funding provided by an
America Works Initiative grant
from the Walmart Foundation



[Definition: Total persons age 16 and over who worked for pay.] Employment remained steady from February to March and is up only slightly from one year ago.

[Definition: Total of all employed persons as defined above and unemployed persons who are available for and seeking work.]
Labor force numbers have been stubborn so far in 2012. Our March figure is down by 6,600 from one year ago.

[Definition: The number of unemployed as a percent of the total labor force.] The unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a percent in March, to 7.6 percent. This is nearly a full percentage point lower than it was last March.

Even though Kansas City's unemployment rate climbed from 7.2 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February, the region still remained in the middle of its peer metros. (Peer metro data lags the data in the charts above by one month.)

March saw 18,468 new help wanted ads posted in the Kansas City area, up almost 4,000 from one year ago.

Occupation Highlight: Skilled Nursing

Of the 18,468 new job postings in the Kansas City metro in March, 1,187 were for registered nurses. There has been a steady rise in job posting for registered nurses since early 2009. And demand is likely to grow — more than half of those currently employed as registered nurses today are over the age of 45, and almost 20 percent are over the age of 55, not far from retirement age.

Top 5 Employers
(Highest Demand):

  • Truman Medical Centers
  • USr Healthcare
  • HCA
  • Shawnee Mission Medical Center
  • University of Kansas Hospital

What if...?

If we were able to permanently fill 500 of the March job postings for registered nurses right now, the work performed by these new hires over the next few years would stimulate the creation of an additional 400 area jobs elsewhere in the Kansas City economy and boost its gross regional product by $93 million.

(Note: This impact estimate assumes that the new jobs would be net new jobs to the region and would not replace or substitute for any currently existing local jobs.)

Mid-America Regional Council | 600 Broadway, Suite 200 | Kansas City, MO 64105 | Ph. 816-474-4240 | marcinfo@marc.org
Data sources: Kansas Department of Labor, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), The Conference Board and Wanted Analytics.
Regional data includes Franklin, Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Bates, Caldwell, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Jackson,
Lafayette, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri.

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