- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas consumer spending grew at a slightly faster pace than most of its closest neighbors in 2012, but the state’s total per-person spending remained among the lowest in the region, a new government report issued Thursday shows.

At $32,523 per person, Kansas spent less per person on food, gas, housing, health care and other personal expenses in 2012 than the national average of $35,498. The new annual report from the U.S. Department of Commerce reveals for the first time consumer spending on a state-by-state basis.

It also shows a substantial shift in the overall economy since the recession ended, especially in states like North Dakota and Oklahoma that are taking advantage of a hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to unlock vast oil and gas reserves. Consumer spending in North Dakota jumped 28 percent from 2009 to 2012, while Oklahoma had the nation’s second-fastest personal spending bump at 15.6 percent.

The increases were less abrupt during that same period in Kansas at 11.7 percent, as well as neighboring states Nebraska at 12.5 percent, Missouri at 10.6 percent and Colorado at 10 percent.

“That’s been the long-term story for Kansas and states like Nebraska and Missouri,” said George Bittlingmayer, professor of finance and economics at the University of Kansas. “They don’t go through the same kind of cycles you might see in places like California and Florida. Diversified economies don’t have the boom and bust you have elsewhere.”

Nationally, it’s important to note that personal spending levels dipped during the recession and haven’t caught up with where they should have been, Bittlingmayer said.

“It’s not a catastrophe,” he said, “but it’s not a big boom.”

In 2011-2012, per-person spending in Kansas rose 3.7 percent. That’s slightly higher than the 3.6 percent growth in Missouri, 2.9 percent in Nebraska and 3 percent in Colorado, but below Oklahoma’s 4.2 percent rise.

Total consumer spending in Kansas grew 4.3 percent in 2012, according to the report, below Oklahoma’s 5.1 percent and Colorado’s 4.4 percent, but higher than the 3.8 percent growth in Missouri and 3.7 percent increase in Nebraska.

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