Yael T. Abouhalkah

New Kansas jobs report bad news for Sam Brownback, good news for Paul Davis

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is struggling to contend that jobs have increased at a fast pace in the state since he took office in 2011.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is struggling to contend that jobs have increased at a fast pace in the state since he took office in 2011. The Associated Press

The new Kansas jobs report out Friday morning contains more bad news for the campaign of Gov. Sam Brownback.

That means it’s good news for Democratic opponent Paul Davis, who needs to continue at this afternoon’s debate in Johnson County to pummel away at Brownback’s income tax cuts and the problems they have created for the state.

Brownback and other Republicans sold those tax reductions as a way to make sure jobs would flow into Kansas.

That hasn’t happened. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures:

▪ Kansas created only 900 new jobs in August.

▪ For the entire year of 2014, the state has added just 7,400 jobs. That’s a puny growth rate of .5 percent.

▪ Since Brownback took office in January of 2011, the state has gained a total of 49,700 jobs. That’s a sluggish growth rate of 3.7 percent.

So how does that compare to Missouri — where income tax cuts have not been in place the last few years?

Missouri, which has about twice the workforce of Kansas, has added 29,000 jobs in 2014 through August.

That’s four times the number of jobs in Kansas and, more comparably, double the Kansas growth rate, at 1.1 percent.

And since January of 2011, Missouri has boosted its employment by 117,000. That’s a 4.4 percent increase, better than the 3.7 percent in Kansas.

In addition, other Midwestern states such as Colorado and Oklahoma have had higher job growth rates in the last three-plus years.

By the way, that overall number of 49,700 jobs in Kansas is going to catch the attention of Brownback‘s supporters.

They claim that Kansas has added more than 56,000 private sector jobs since he took office.

That’s correct. However, that number does not take into account all of the lost jobs in the ranks of local and state government, or around 8,000 people.

Clearly, the more important number is the total number of new jobs in Kansas. And that’s the less-impressive 49,700 figure.

In addition, Kansans need to be vigilant in not believing there’s any good reason to embrace Brownback’s claim that he will help create 100,000 private-sector jobs over his next four-year term, if he’s re-elected.

As BLS figures showed last month, Kansas is averaging only 1,000 new private-sector jobs a month. And since Brownback took office in 2011, the average increase in that employment is 1,300 a month.

But Kansas would have to create 2,083 new jobs a month over four years to reach the 100,000 figure pledged by Brownback.

Overall, the tax breaks continue to be a big drain on the state without leading to any appreciable increase in jobs.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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