Emporia Economic Outlook Conference ends on high note

EMPORIA, Kan. — Emporia’s economy gets a big thumbs-up. That was the message at the city’s 35th annual Emporia Economic Outlook Conference, recently held at the Memorial Union.

A number aspects of the economic outlook were discussed, and more than just Emporia’s – the national, state, regional and local economies all took the stage. The event was sponsored by the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce, Emporia State University and Wichita State University.

Among the speakers was William Swelbar, a research engineer at MIT International Center for Air Transportation, who spoke about the aviation industry and its impact on the Kansas economy. He indicated that the hub-mentality of the aviation industry gave the state an advantage, in part because of its geography.

Recovery after the Great Recession was an underlying theme throughout the event. One questioner asked speaker Jack Kleinhenz about the likelihood of another recession in the near future. According to Kleinhenz, National Retail Federation chief economist, that possibility is very low because the economic conditions that instigate recession are not present on the landscape.

A low unemployment rate in Kansas is another advantage, which enjoys a high employee-to-population ratio. The state’s unemployment rate was at 4.9 percent as of August; better than the 6 percent rate nationally.

State-wide losses in durable manufacturing have stabilized or are on the rise, according to Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State, as is the Kansas labor market.

All of the speakers were in agreement that while there some areas for concern and room to improve, the Kansas economy was growing.

Source: The Emporia Gazette

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