Sunday, July 21, 2013

Reports give mixed reviews of Kansas economy

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback last week touted improvements in Kansas' business rankings by two organizations, but another report showed the state near the bottom in certain areas of economic growth.

CNBC, a business news organization, ranked Kansas 14th, up from 15th last year. And Pollina Corporate Real Estate placed Kansas 6th, up from 8th.

“It is good to see Kansas being recognized as a leader in creating a business-friendly environment,” Brownback said. “We are striving to ensure that Kansas continues to be a leader in providing businesses with the resources and pro-growth policies that encourage job creation and investment.”

CNBC based its rankings on 10 categories. Some of those included infrastructure, transportation, cost of living, business friendliness and education, according to a news release from the Brownback administration. Pollina Corporate based its rankings on 32 factors controlled by state government.

But another report shows Kansas lagging most states in economic growth from February to May and predicted it will trail in the next six months.

"Most states improved over the past quarter; only Alaska, Kansas, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Wyoming experienced declines," said the State Economic Monitor report by the Tax Policy Center, which provides independent analyses of tax issues.

The report cited an economic growth measure produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia that combines non-farm employment, average manufacturing hours worked, the state's unemployment rate and real wages.

The Philadelphia Fed also produces an index that measures future economic activity for six months, and again Kansas was among the bottom states.

The report also cited Bureau of Labor statistics that showed Kansas was one of 20 states where inflation-adjusted average weekly earnings of private employees decreased between May 2012 and last May.

In the latest unemployment report, Kansas' seasonally adjusted jobless rate for June was 5.8 percent, up from 5.7 percent in May and the same as June 2012. The national unemployment rate for June was 7.6 percent, which was unchanged from May, and a decrease from 8.2 percent in June 2012.