The new March employment report in Kansas released Friday contains some good news for Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters: The state gained 2,400 jobs over February.
Now for the bad news: The Sunflower State’s total nonfarm employment was 1,398,800 in March — exactly the same as it was in March 2015.
That’s right. The state had a jobs growth rate of 0.0 percent over the last 12 months.
That’s the seventh worst figure in the entire country, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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That’s not even close to adding the 25,000 jobs per year that Brownback promised during his 2014 re-election, then doubled down on earlier this year.
Yet it’s also true that the 0.0 percent figure is an improvement.
In February, Kansas was several thousand jobs below what it had had in February 2015. The “growth” rate was minus 0.4 percent, the fifth worst year-over-year mark in the United States.
In a way, Kansas has seen a “surge” in its jobs market.
Missouri’s employment picture is a bit brighter.
It lost 1,500 jobs in March over February, yet has still gained 23,700 jobs since March 2015.
That’s a growth rate of 0.9 percent, which is the 11th worst rate in the country.
To be clear, by now it’s obvious that the huge tax cuts Brownback pushed through in 2012 have not led to the promised surge in jobs in his state.
Instead, they have crippled the general fund budget, led to massive diversions of road money, delayed payments to pension funds and a host of scary education funding issues.
The tax cuts, at least the $250 million a year for businesses, need to be repealed to put Kansas back on firmer financial footing.
Here’s a quick summation of recent job news in Kansas, veering from one problem to another:
▪ The news in January was a punch in the gut, when jobs fell by 4,000 from December of 2015.
▪ In February the state lost even more jobs and had 5,400 fewer jobs than it did in February of 2015.
▪ Earlier this month came the latest BLS news that employment has grown far more quickly on the Missouri side of the state line in the Kansas City area over the last year — the exact opposite of what Brownback had pledged would occur because of the Kansas tax cuts.