The Buzz

The Kansas employment riddle, continued

Updated: 2013-08-22T21:58:58Z

By DAVE HELLING

Writing in the National Review, Kevin D. Williamson is the latest columnist to accept the claim from Gov. Sam Brownback and others that tax cuts have moved jobs into Kansas:

“Kansas City saw about 9,500 new jobs created between May 2012 and May 2013 — every one of them on the Kansas side of the border, where residents and businesses enjoy a significant tax advantage thanks in part to the leadership of Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas conservatives.”

As usual , the actual statistics are more complicated.

It’s true that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has record a 9,500-job jump in the Kansas City SMSA between May 2012 and May 2013. All of those increases came on the Kansas side.

But the Brownback tax cuts for businesses and on income didn’t take effect until January of this year. If those tax cuts really prompted businesses and jobs to move, we should see some evidence of that in 2013.

Indeed, the BLS figures show a growth of 10,900 jobs on the Kansas side from March 2013 to May 2013 (we couldn’t find figures for January or February.)

But the same figures show Missouri-side jobs grew by 10,000 over the same March-to-May time frame.

If the Kansas tax cuts were so injurious to Missouri employment, the figures should show job loss in that period. Or, at the very least, no growth.

Instead, Kansas and Missouri jobs grew by almost an identical number with the tax cuts enacted into law.

The actual job-creating impact of the Kansas tax cuts remains obscure. We may not fully understand their impact for some time, Williamson and Brownback not withstanding.

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