- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Government officials and economists say economic recovery has not been uniform across Kansas since the recession, leaving some areas behind.

Wichita State University economist Kenneth Kriz says a major amount of job growth since the end of the recession has happened in northeast Kansas in the Kansas City metropolitan area and the surrounding counties, including Lawrence. He says Topeka has seen slightly slower growth, and Wichita has not grown much at all.

According to Kriz, Wichita has dealt with Boeing’s 2012 decision to pull its military manufacturing division out of Kansas, and other issues centered on the aviation industry have impacted the area’s economy. He said that the company’s decision to sell its civilian aircraft division to Spirit Aviation also had a profound impact on the area.

Kriz was one of several economic experts who spoke at the University of Kansas last month during the annual Kansas Economic Policy Conference, which focused on the state of Kansas’ economic opportunity as it emerges from the recession.

The Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1HDlPZX ) reports officials say the agriculture industry’s consolidation, low wages and sales tax increases have factored into the slow economic recovery of the state’s rural counties.

According to Patricia Clark, Kansas director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program, wages in rural areas have not kept up with similarly-waged jobs in urban areas.

Clark said, “I think the average wage in rural (Kansas) is a little over $44,000. The average wage in urban areas is a little over $52,000. That’s a significant wage difference between urban and rural.”

According to Clark, one of the consequences of the cost of living gap between rural areas and urban areas has been a steady exodus out of rural counties.

She says young people who grew up in rural areas leave for better economic opportunities in urban centers, which exacerbates existing problems.

Clark and Kriz say these issues are not unique to Kansas, and are happening in rural counties throughout the U.S., but there are specific consequences for Kansas due to a shift in reliance on revenue on retail sales tax instead of income taxes.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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