LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence is the most expensive metro area in Kansas, according to new government figures.
Numbers released recently by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show that although the cost of living in Lawrence is lower than the national average, it’s higher than in any other metro area in Kansas. Lawrence residents also earn far less than residents in other Kansas communities.
Manhattan’s cost of living, for example, is about 3.6 percent cheaper than Lawrence’s. The per capita, inflation-adjusted income for a Manhattan resident, though, is about $7,700 more than what Lawrence residents earn.
“I guess I can’t say it is real surprising,” said Lawrence City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer. “We are kind of an entertainment and service-oriented community right now. That is who we have grown to become. This speaks to the need for more primary jobs.”
The new figures by the Bureau of Economic Analysis are designed to give people a better idea of how much it costs to live in various metro areas. The agency measured both income levels and how much it costs for goods and services based on 2012 data.
The cost-of-living component assigns every metro area in the country a score, with a score of 100 equal to the national average. Lawrence had a score of 95.5, so its price index is 4.5 percent less than the national average.
The BEA then used the price indexes for each metro area, along with national inflation numbers, to create an inflation-adjusted per capita income number for each metro area. Lawrence had an adjusted number of $36,103, which left it behind several university communities that also have to contend with high numbers of students who typically bring the per capita numbers down.
Mike McGrew, chairman of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and also leader of McGrew Real Estate, said he’s seen through his industry that real estate prices in Lawrence generally are higher than anywhere in Kansas other than Johnson County.
“I think we already may be seeing the early signs of people saying, I would love to live in Lawrence, but I have to go where the jobs are,” McGrew said. “We don’t want that to be the answer. We have to have the jobs here.”