- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas job growth is lagging well behind the national average, but the state’s employment outlook for next year has improved, a report released Thursday shows.

While employment nationwide grew by 1.9 percent nationally in the past 12 months, Kansas jobs increased by just 1 percent, according to the report by Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

However, it said Kansas is expected to add 23,239 jobs next year, for an anticipated employment growth of 1.7 percent in 2015.

A year ago, the center predicted that Kansas would see job growth of 1.4 percent in 2014 - an optimistic forecast that failed to materialize amid ongoing losses in major industries, particularly in the beleaguered aircraft manufacturing companies in Wichita.

The strongest growth statewide next year is expected to be in service jobs, with a growth rate of 2.6 percent. The fastest growing sectors in that category are for jobs in professional and business services, education and health care.

About 5,000 jobs are also forecast to be added statewide next year in the production sector, with most of those anticipated in the natural resources such as oil and gas industries and construction.

Federal and state governments are expected to continue to decline in employment, with local governments adding slightly more jobs.

The Wichita economy is projected to improve next year, but more slowly than the national average.

Wichita employment grew just .2 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period a year ago. During that same period employment grew 1.7 percent nationally.

“This recovery has several downside risks that could reduce growth expectations. Further downturns from foreign trading partners, tightening monetary policy, regulatory changes, and local political uncertainties could all darken the outlook for 2015,” according to the report.

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