WICHITA, Kansas – State unemployment numbers are down. That’s good news, but the growth in jobs is not in manufacturing.
“Low income jobs came right after the recession,” says Jeremy Hill with the Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research. “These are service jobs. They started coming back to restaurants and places like that.”
Hill says the moderate to higher paying jobs in manufacturing will take time, and a new report from the state says the same thing.
This week, Kansas Department of Labor’s senior economist, Tyler Tenbrink, came out with new news on Kansas labor.
Tenbrink says private-sector jobs lost during the recession have bounced back, nearly to pre-recession levels. But that Tenbrink report also says wages are not bouncing back.
Some Wichita residents say more new jobs sounds like good news. But, not if you are still looking for a high paying job.
“It’s not easy helping my son and looking for something in the field I do. I like to take care of people,” says Wichita resident Marie Curtis. “Right now I work a part-time job doing a car delivery.”
Marie used to work in the aircraft industry in Wichita, but is in a lower-paying job for the time being.
“The wage is really poor. And they don’t have medical for their employees,” says Marie. “Health insurance is… Yes, very important.”
City leaders in Wichita say the recent report on state unemployment numbers is good news, and bad news.
“I think it’s great our state is gaining jobs,” says Wichita City Council member James Clendenin. “But Wichita needs diversification and high-paying jobs.”
Clendenin says high-end jobs are sometimes the driver of middle-income jobs. Hill agrees.
“Today we continue to add more service related jobs than manufacturing,” says Hill. “Manufacturing is weak. We are not really adding them there.”
Clendenin says the city is trying to find ways to get more high paying jobs into the state.
“It’s certainly been a focus for us as a city council,” says Clendenin. “If we want to see wages grow and get better, we need to get those higher paying jobs in here. We need to have affordable ways to train people to be able to do those jobs.”