By ROXANA HEGEMANWICHITA, Kan. (AP) â¿¿ A Wichita State University research center reported Thursday that the Kansas economy is growing at a slower rate than the nation's economy overall in a forecast that anticipates much of the same next year. The Center for Economic Development and Business Research forecast in its jobs outlook report that next year's nonfarm employment growth is expected to be 1.4 percent, a gain of 19,000 jobs in Kansas. Kansas' economy is growing more slowly than the rest of the nation, but the state also didn't decline during the recession nearly as much as the rest of the United States, CEDBR director Jeremy Hill said in a phone interview. At the same time the national economy is improving, the number of unemployed Kansans has continued to increase. That is because the number of new jobs in Kansas has grown by just 1 percent as of August and has not kept up with the growth in the state's labor force, CEDBR said. Job growth is expected hit 1.1 percent growth by the end of the year. The largest employment growth forecast for next year is in the service sectors with the anticipated addition of 12,202 service jobs in Kansas. Of those, education and health services account for 4,254 new jobs. Among the factors woven into that forecast is the anticipated impact of the implementation of the health care law. Health care "consumption" is expected to increase "creating a little bit of a bubble" as more insured people seek medical services, Hill said. But the biggest shift appears to be how companies plan to respond to its implementation. Last year, companies were telling CEDBR that they might just drop their company insurance policies, now they are saying that "since everybody is in the same boat" they are just going to match what their competitors are doing, Hill said. Companies with unions in each industry are planning to match whoever comes up with the first contract in that market.
"Companies are just accepting of the health care law, they are not going to make changes," Hill said.More likely to make structural changes is the insurance industry, he said, which is expected to see more mergers to cut administrative costs. Hospitals are likely to expand its employment with the new health care law, but surveys show that is because doctors concerned about being in private practices want to move to hospitals that offer more security. "That does not mean there is going to be a huge shift in the number of doctors needed or other health care providers needed," Hill said. "It is just going to shift where those jobs are in the economy." The business tax cuts put championed by Gov. Sam Brownback have been a "windfall for sole proprietorships," he said, but have not created any noticeable boost in the number of jobs so far. "I never had an optimistic outlook of the tax plans materializing in a lot of jobs in any short period of time," Hill said. Forecast job growth next year in Kansas is unequal across the state. The best growth is in the Kansas City area as shown by the increase in professional services sector which is anticipated to create 4,837 jobs for a 3 percent increase in jobs. "When you look at the rest of the state, Wichita still had a lot of bad news for aviation this last year," Hill said. "They didn't create jobs so that really held the whole state back." Manufacturing is forecast to grow by 1.5 percent next year in Kansas, CEDBR said. The sector that includes natural resources, mining and construction is projected to grow by 3.8 percent. No industry in the state is expected to cut its overall employment, but "virtually no growth" is expected in government jobs, Hill said.