Kansas City employment rebounds to a new post-pandemic high

May 08, 2024
| Posted in
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Employment and Growth

After rebounding by 8,000 jobs in February, an additional 3,000 jobs gained in March pushed Kansas City employment to a new high of 1,144,400.

This is the first reading in 8 months to exceed July 2023 levels and it produced a 1.1% increase over the past 12 months, which pushed the region’s rank on employment growth up to 6th among the 11 Benchmark metros. After losing 135,000 jobs during the pandemic, the region has regained all of those plus another 40,000.


However, during the eight months that employment stopped growing, regional unemployment started climbing. In March, 3.1% of the labor force was unemployed, up from 2.7% last July. The region’s unemployment rate held steady over the last month, however.

Employment by industry

Nearly all of the employment growth in the past year came from industries primarily serving local residents rather than national markets, led by Health Care, Leisure and Hospitality, Retail Trade and Local government. The lone exception was the strong growth of federal government employees. 

Meanwhile, the region’s exporting sectors were generally a net negative on employment growth over the past year, with Professional Technical Services, Transportation and Utilities and Financial Activities all losing jobs, while Manufacturing only grew by 200 employees. In the long run, it takes growth in the exporting industries to sustain growth in the local-serving industries.  The region’s lackluster export performance raises the risk that Kansas City’s recent employment rebound may not last.