MARC seeks input on preliminary long-range population and employment forecasts for the region

May 01, 2024
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Population crowd figures

The region is likely facing a future of slower population and employment growth, as revealed in the draft forecasts for the 2025 update of the region's long-range transportation plan, Connected KC 2050.

MARC’s Director of Research Services, Frank Lenk, is developing the forecasts, which predict the region’s population and employment growth rate will be healthy, but is projected to slow over the next 25 years, compared to previous projections. This forecast will impact expected economic growth as the population grows older and more people age out of the workforce. The draft region-wide forecast will continue to be refined over the next few months as it is reviewed by MARC committees.

Draft Forecasts

By 2050, the region's population may increase by approximately 300,000, while employment growth could see an addition of around 190,000 jobs. These figures mark a reduction from the last time MARC updated its transportation plan in 2020.

The underlying factors for this anticipated slowdown include a persistent decline in U.S. fertility rates since 2008 and a slight uptick in mortality rates. Currently, the fertility rate stands at about 1.6 births per woman, below the replacement level of 2.1 births needed for a stable population. By 2038, deaths in the U.S. are projected to outnumber births, with only international immigration contributing to the nation’s population growth through the planning horizon of 2050.

Next Steps

Over the next few months, the MARC Technical Forecast Committee will continue to improve and refine the draft forecasts and, during the summer, will finalize a forecast for adoption. Following that, the next step is to break down the overall regional figures into specific numbers for counties, towns and neighborhoods. This detailed work is scheduled to be carried out throughout the rest of the year.