Yael T. Abouhalkah

Yael T. Abouhalkah: New collapse in Kansas jobs market further humiliates Gov. Sam Brownback

Let this stunning news sink in: The Kansas jobs report released Friday shows the state lost another 1,900 jobs in February and now has 5,400 fewer jobs than it did one year ago.

That’s right: The Sunflower State had a “growth” rate of negative 0.4 percent from February 2015 to February 2016, the first time that’s happened in more than five years. That negative employment rate is one of the worst in the nation.

The collapse of the Kansas jobs market is more humiliating news for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

The reckless tax cuts he pushed through in 2012 have not led to a surge in jobs — and have nearly bankrupted the state.

Check out this depressing set of facts:

Brownback proclaimed in August 2014 when he was running for re-election that, “My goal for the next four years is 25,000 new jobs per year. That’s 100,000 new jobs for the hardworking people of Kansas.”

At that point, Kansas employment was 1,394,300.

But on Friday, state officials said Kansas had 1,395,900 jobs in February 2016.

That’s a gain of a puny 1,600 jobs in the 18 months since Brownback made his pledge.

That’s obviously far behind the approximately 36,000 jobs the state should have gained if the market had grown at the governor’s hoped-for pace.

Friday’s news furthers damage Brownback’s proclamation in 2012 that the income tax cuts passed by the Legislature would inject a “shot of adrenalin” into the state economy.

Kansans now have fresh evidence that the state is not adding jobs like much of the rest of the nation, where employment is up almost 2 percent over the last year.

And in yet another dose of bad news for the Brownback administration, a just-released report from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors on the “Indicators of the Kansas economy” said things are not going well.

The state has fallen behind the six-state region and the rest of the United States in important categories. That starts with the low job growth, of course, but Kansas also is behind in gains when it comes to personal income, gross state product, private establishments and building permits.

The February jobs report on Friday arrived in the same month that Kansas revenue figures for February were $54 million short of estimates. That forced Brownback to cut $17 million in funding for higher education.

By the way, Missouri had a far better February. It reported an addition of 9,400 jobs.

However, for the 12-month period, its total gain was only 0.7 percent. In January, Missouri had the ninth worst rate of job growth in the nation.

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