WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Grocery prices, home prices, gas prices. Nowadays, everything is more expensive. Many believe a recession is on the way, and if that happens, how will Wichita fare?
Experts at Wichita State University (WSU) released their annual economic outlook on Thursday. Jeremy Hill, the director of the WSU Center for Economic Development and Business Research, said the forecast showed the economy was doing better than most thought, but the last two weeks have thrown some curveballs.
“The Federal Reserve just two weeks ago saying that they’re going to attack inflation, which could put us in recession at the national level,” Hill said.
Hill believes, though, Kansas could handle itself fairly well because of the agriculture and aerospace production in the state.
“Our food manufacturing will mostly be robust except for the meat side, and our durable side should do pretty well,” Hill said. “Particularly aerospace here. As long as the small shallow recession nothing massively global, aerospace looks great and will continue to hire and continue to grow.”
With jobs open, employers are stuck with a tight labor market. Maggie Topping with Textron Aviation said they have been trying to find avenues to fill those positions.
“We spent the last 18 months just trying to understand what exactly are the headwinds?” Topping said. “What barriers do we have to employment, putting programs in place to address all sorts of issues to make people successful?”
One of those barriers is age, and USD 259 Chief Human Resource Officer Sean Hudspeth says he has seen an increase in high schoolers getting hired.
“Everybody is starting early,” Hudspeth said. “And I’m glad to hear that when they say starting early, they’re starting to tap juniors and seniors in high school.”
According to Hill, the local employment forecast is growing quicker than the population.
“Our optimism for Kansas and Wichita is still good compared to the U.S., right? We just are in good industry in the industries that help us weather a small recession,” Hill said.
Hill said if inflation continues to stick around, it will hurt people’s purchasing power, hitting lower-income households the hardest.