Yael T. Abouhalkah

Here’s woeful new economic report Gov. Sam Brownback doesn’t want Kansans to see

No wonder Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s supporters don’t want the public to easily see the latest report on the state’s economy. It’s not very positive.
No wonder Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s supporters don’t want the public to easily see the latest report on the state’s economy. It’s not very positive. The Associated Press

A new report on the Kansas economy shows, in grim numbers, how far behind the Sunflower State has slipped when compared with six regional competitors and the rest of the United States.

Gov. Sam Brownback once hoped the quarterly report from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors would show a resurgence of the state under his guidance. But now, his administration is making it difficult to even see the numbers. Earlier this month, Tim Carpenter of The Topeka Capital-Journal noted that the council was no longer placing the report online.

After I reviewed a copy of the “Indicators of the Kansas Economy” document, it’s easy to see why.

In too many categories, Kansas has fallen behind on both the one-year and five-year comparisons that the governor’s own council is putting together.

Summed up, the excessive income tax cuts signed into law by Brownback have not helped Kansas roar past other states when it comes to economic growth in recent years.

Here’s a kicker: Some of the report’s 10-year comparisons with nearby states (Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma) and the United States are actually a bit more positive. Those instances show that before Brownback — when Kansas was led by Democratic governors Mark Parkinson and, before him, Kathleen Sebelius — Kansas had been headed in the right direction.

It’s only with Brownback in charge in the most recent years, again in general, that the Sunflower State has fallen behind in some crucial categories.

▪ Kansas’ gross state product was up 3.2 percent in the last year — lower than the 3.8 percent growth rate in the Midwest region and the 3.9 percent rate for the United States.

Kansas also has fallen behind both the region and the country when measured over the last five years.

Yet the Kansas 10-year growth rate was actually higher than the U.S. average and only slightly lower than the six Midwestern competitors

▪ Kansas’ personal income grew 1.4 percent in the last year — lower than the region’s 2.2 percent rate and the 2.7 percent rate for the United States. And the state was behind in both measurements over the last five years as well.

Over a 10-year period, though, Kansas was tied with its Midwest competitors and slightly ahead of the U.S. rate.

▪ In a bit better news, Kansas’ per-capita personal income was up 2.5 percent in the last year. That was higher than the region’s 2.1 percent rate but lower than the 3 percent rate for the United States. Over five years, Kansas grew faster than the nation but slower than the region.

However, Kansas’ 10-year per-capita income rate of growth was higher than both its Midwestern competitors and the U.S. average.

▪ Kansas’ total nonfarm employment for the last year through June 2014 was up a puny .9 percent — below the region’s 1.4 percent growth rate and the 2.1 percent rate for the United States.

And Kansas trailed in the five-year and 10-year figures as well.

▪ Finally, Kansas’ private-sector employment rose only 1.1 percent in the last year through June — below the region’s 1.6 percent rate and the U.S. rate of 2.4 percent.

Kansas was behind in both the five-year and 10-year comparisons as well.

The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors is providing valuable ways to monitor how well the Kansas economy is doing. However, Brownback in the future should ensure that the council places the full report online so the public can easily see the data.

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

  Comments