Kansans got some upbeat news late last week, as the number of new jobs surged by 8,400 in October. That exceeded the paltry 7,900 created through the entire first nine months of the year.
Gov. Sam Brownback, who was re-elected on Nov. 4 to another four-year term, has long promised that income tax cuts he approved would attract lots of new employees.
The additional jobs in October should help boost tax collections, at least a little bit. However, that also depends on how many of the newly employed actually are paying income taxes. They may have been attracted by the generous exclusions created by Brownback and the Legislature.
It’s crucial that Kansas bring in more revenue because state funds are projected to be hundreds of millions of dollars below previous estimates. As a result, state officials concluded earlier this month that Kansas would have to slice more than $700 million to balance its budget over the next 18 months or so.
Even after the huge addition of jobs in October, the employment growth rate in Kansas since the tax cuts took effect in January of 2013 trails three of its four neighboring states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Colorado’s employment is up 4.8 percent in that span, followed by Oklahoma, 3.1 percent; Missouri, 2.9 percent; Kansas, 2.4 percent; and Nebraska, 1.8 percent.
In addition, through September, Kansas had trailed a total of 31 other states in job growth since January of 2013.
The October jobs report may be the harbinger of better times ahead for the Kansas economy.
Or it could turn out to be little more than a momentary statistical blip.