Kansas job numbers take a turn in the wrong direction

06/29/2014 11:00 AM

06/29/2014 5:51 PM

After increasing through much of 2013, the number of jobs in Kansas has stagnated over the last six months. This is discouraging economic news in a state that’s trying to attract new businesses and residents.

Last November, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Kansas had reached a post-recession high in total nonfarm employment with 1,384,900 jobs.

But in the latest report ending in May, the number had fallen to 1,383,300, or a loss of 1,600 jobs.

While that’s a small sum, Kansas was one of only five states in the nation to shed employment over that time.

All of Kansas’ neighbors have done far better since November, led by Colorado (up 41,000 jobs), Missouri (up 15,400) and Oklahoma (up 13,800).

In addition, Kansas continues to trail the national average and almost all close-by states in the percentage of total job gains since early 2011, when Gov. Sam Brownback took office.

These disturbing facts further undermine the contention by Brownback and other Republicans that the deep income tax cuts they approved in 2012 would act as a job magnet for the state. That hasn’t happened, even while the lower rates have slashed tax revenues far more than once estimated.

The dip in employment should pressure elected officials to reconsider the tax cuts. Investing in top-quality education and other public assets remains a better way to revive the state economy.

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