Although uneven, job growth remains on track to return to pre-recession levels by early 2022

Posted Jan. 2, 2022

According to the Monthly Workforce Indicators, the Kansas City economy has come a long way toward recovering its job losses from the COVID-19 recession. Currently, Kansas City has recovered 92% of the 142,100 jobs lost. The Kansas City metropolitan economy needs to recover another 10,700 jobs to return to the pre-pandemic high level of employment. In November, seasonally adjusted employment increased by 2,500 jobs, which was down from the revised 4,000 increase in October but up from loss of 1,500 jobs experienced in September. Recent job gains have been uneven, likely due to the inverse relationship between consumer demand and the repeated ebb and flow in the number COVID-19 cases. Overall, though, employment continues to improve, averaging 3,200 jobs through the first 11 months of 2021. The unemployment rate for November decreased to 3.5% from 3.6%, a slight improvement over the previous months.

Kansas City ranks third in its job recovery from the losses created by pandemic-induced recession compared to ten benchmark metros. During the past 12 months, though, its rate of job growth has slipped to sixth, growing 4% — well behind the leaders of Austin (7.5%), Portland (5.5%) and Denver (5.3%).

Leisure and Hospitality was the hardest hit sector during the recession but has been the fastest growing industry after the downturn. During the past 12 months, job growth in Leisure and Hospitality increased 15,500. Other industries with large gains in employment include Professional/Technical Services, which added 9,600 jobs, Retail trade, which added 6,500 jobs, and Transportation & Utilities, which added 3,900 jobs. Industries that have lost employment during the 12-month period include Financial Services, down 4,000 jobs, Information down 700 jobs, and Management of Companies down 600 jobs.

The economic recovery has continued for much of the past year. Job growth has been uneven at times due to friction from workers transitioning back into the workforce and surges of COVID-19 cases continuing to create uncertainty. Yet employment continues to improve overall. Kansas City is still on track to return to pre-pandemic levels of employment in the first part of 2022 which is something to look forward to at the start of the new year.

View the Monthly Workforce Indicators