Archive for Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lawrence ranks low on income

And even worse on housing costs

The average income in Lawrence leaves something to be desired when compared to other cities across the country. The cost of living in Lawrence is also high in comparison to other cities in the Big 12 conference.

August 8, 2009


Big 12 city incomes

Here’s a look at the 2008 per capita income for Big 12 and area cities, and the median home values in each community.

• Boulder, Colo.: $52,719; $342,400

• Norman/Oklahoma City: $40,942; $111,200

• Austin, Texas: $37,811; $167,500

• Manhattan: $36,987; $123,700

• Lincoln, Neb.: $36,202; $140,700

• Ames, Iowa: $34,702; $150,200

• Columbia, Mo.: $33,604; $139,400

• Lubbock, Texas: $31,380; $92,200

• Lawrence: $31,125; $168,300

• Waco, Texas: $31,074; $92,800

• College Station: $27,694; $115,900

• Kansas City: $40,367; $152,500

• Topeka: $34,748; $108,300

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Census Bureau

Here’s a look at the percentage of income spent on housing, based on average income levels and average mortgage amounts for each city:

1. Lawrence: 51.8 percent

2. College Station: 51.1 percent

3. Austin: 49.5 percent

4. Ames: 45.4 percent

5. Waco: 43.5 percent

6. Lincoln: 42 percent

7. Boulder: 41 percent

8. Columbia: 40.1 percent

9. Lubbock: 40.8 percent

10. Manhattan: 35.6 percent

11. Norman/Oklahoma City: 32 percent

This is one Big 12 ranking Lawrence could live without.

New numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Lawrence’s 2008 per capita income was the second lowest of the 11 Big 12 Conference cities for which data was available.

And when you compare the income that Lawrence residents earn to the average housing prices in the city, Lawrence fares the worst out of those 11 Big 12 cities.

Several economic leaders in the city said they weren’t surprised.

“We’ve had virtually no job growth for this decade,” said Roger Zalneraitis, the city’s economic development coordinator/planner at City Hall. “We just haven’t seen the increases in jobs or wages. We’ve fallen behind the rest of the region in that regard.”

The new statistics on income show that Lawrence residents earned, on average, $31,125 in 2008. That represented a 2.5 percent increase over 2007 totals, but the growth wasn’t enough to push Lawrence’s income levels even close to average for either the country or the Big 12 conference.

Lawrence’s per capita income ranked 266th out of 366 metro areas in the country. It ranked ninth out of the 11 Big 12 cities that were measured. Stillwater, Okla., was too small to be included in the federal government’s latest release.

To put into perspective Lawrence’s cost-of-living, the Journal-World compared the new income numbers with the latest housing value numbers, which were compiled by the U.S. Census for 2007.

Those numbers show that despite the below-average income, Lawrence had the second highest median value for owner-occupied homes in the Big 12 Conference at $168,300. According to the Census Bureau, the average monthly mortgage payment in Lawrence was $1,346. That meant a Lawrence resident with an average income and an average mortgage was spending 51.8 percent of their income on housing. That was the highest of the 11 Big 12 cities, even though Boulder, Colo., had median home prices of more than $340,000.

The difference? Boulder also has the 12th highest average per capita income in the nation.

Economic development leaders said the lesson is clear. The community needs to focus on attracting higher wage jobs.

“I’m not sure what the community can do about housing costs,” said Tom Kern, president and CEO of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. “Those are a factor of willing buyers and willing sellers. But the issue of wages is something we can work on.”

Kern said the community is trying to follow the example of places like Boulder, San Diego, Raleigh, N.C., or Madison, Wis., that have made conscious decisions to use research conducted at their local universities to attract specialty jobs and companies to the area.

“Our emphasis is on biosciences because those type of jobs will push our per capita income up,” Kern said.

But the changes likely will take many years to show solid results when it comes to pushing average incomes up. In the meantime, questions are growing about whether housing prices and incomes can continue to have such a disparity.

“At some point in time, the market is going to figure this out,” said Mayor Rob Chestnut. “I think we have to assume we will not see the decade worth of assessed value growth that we saw the last decade because that is just not sustainable.

“All of this points straight to the fact that we have to create economic development opportunities here.”

Chestnut said the disparity in incomes versus housing prices was a major factor in Lawrence’s population slowdown. The numbers suggest Lawrence is likely losing out to area cities. Both the Topeka and Kansas City metro areas had higher incomes than Lawrence and lower housing costs.

“No matter how great a community we are to live in, at some point people are going to make the economic choices they have to make,” Chestnut said.


kansasmutt 8 years, 5 months ago

Yeeeeeeeeee Hawwwwwwwwwwww Lawrence is ahead of the pack on something now. Yallll should be proud.......#11 and #12 on the sh@t list, not bad folks.

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

One would question the investment that has been made over the last decade in C of C , Eco Devo , city planning operations , Convention and Visitors , all of whom have nicely compensated administrators who have produced virtually zero results. Is it time to shut off the flow of money to these operations and focus our investment into activities that add value to Lawrence. -Small Business Incubator District off downtown for tech , retail , service , restaurant start ups -Vocational Trade School for tech trades , small farming , and trades that can become small business in the near future -Add amenities to DTL that make it a destination , amphitheater booked with entertainment series , Lawrence City Limits , like Austin , develop a loft district overlooking the river -Attract retirement development other than the "one step before the home " crap we currently have in Lawrence.

OR we can continue investing millions per year in over paid administrators who sit around waiting for Biosciences to show up at our doorstep.

Dan Eyler 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence is a perfect storm of a progressive economic plan. By preventing growth and refusing economic development they enslave people to expensive housing and no job benefits and a lack of healthcare and other private free market job expectations. Instead they are promised a government plan that requires nothing in return. Lawrence has refused Walmart and American Eagle distribution centers. These progressives demanded a living wage from these businesses. These businesses moved on to Ottawa, Ks. Ottawa new they didn't need to get into the living wage issue because they new that the free market would dictate the pay. Now hundreds are working for these companies in Ottawa and making 3-5 dollars more than the living wage demanded by Lawrence. Ottawa has seen a jump in housing and other new businesses on their main street all an expectation of allowing new development and jobs into their community. Since then Lawrence has seen businesses look past the city setting up a despirate outlook for jobs for those who need the jobs the most. The wages in Lawrence are a form of slavery in a city that prides itself on social justice and human rights. Those progressives who are proud of these outcomes are the real slave masters. Your economic plan inslaves so many into low paying jobs, and government handouts. The homeless walk our streets looking for the promises of there slave masters and none to be found. The growing under class of Lawrence have Burt Nash they have the Shelter, they have the local charities, but they are missing the examples of hard work and hope for a better tomorrow all of which has created the progressive perfect economic storm in Lawrence, Ks.

Alabamastreet 8 years, 5 months ago

No doubt Lawrence has an income/housing problem. That said, Lawrence is oddly situated in that it feeds in part of employment in Topeka and the Kansas City area. It is more like Norman/OKC than most of the other towns in the B12, and that study could have linked our income situation to those towns and it would have been a reasonable connection.

As a result, many people in Lawrence can afford more expensive housing because they don't work here. Which results in a more difficult situation for the people who actually work in Lawrence and have to deal with a housing supply/demand that is driven by the economy outside the city.

Besides Norman, and possibly Bolder (I'm not all that familiar with Denver/Boulder situation), none of those other towns are commuting towns.

So, there is an issue, I'm not playing it down, but there are some obvious reasons why those numbers exist.

In my opinion, the eco devo for this town should center on two or three primary things: getting the community more integrated with the University (bus system, more game-day events, cultural activities), promote itself as a tourist destination for weekend gettaways from the KC area and smaller towns around the area and make it as efficient as possible for people to commute in and out of town -- more coffee and bagel places going out on K-10 and on the way to I-70, a good by-pass on 23rd street, great physical connections to the Turnpike.

The biggest threat to the community is the expansion of KU beyond Lawrence -- although understand why the U is doing it -- and the community needs to work really, really hard to keep people living and coming here for the reasons they do, because it remains a pretty cool place to return home to from the work day and to go to school.

One other area we ought to consider for expansion is the airport. With all the development on the west side of KC around the speedway, I could see a small jet service or two pick Lawrence as a place to land as it would be quicker getting to Topeka and some places in the KC area than KCI. Just a thought.

Catzilla 8 years, 5 months ago

I knew I made the right decision to move. Lawrence is becoming "unlivable."

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

Why not open up the old temple as a start up location. Use the 2 million a year that all the non-effective local devo groups suck up and build a short term rent subsidy , micro loan program . With those funds and some creative space utilization you could add at least 40 small businesses a year to the lawrence economy.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

Why does Lawrence suck? The anarchists of the late '60's and early '70's (who threatened to kill business owners in town on a daily basis) - they got their people elected to the city commission a few years ago. Those people conspired and restricted Lawrence almost out of business and their changes are still in effect to this day.

Lawrence is known as one of the most restrictive anti-business cities in the United States of America!

You might know their verbige, they say things like: corporate welfare; smart growth; living wage law; etc., etc.

Practicality 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence should really be ashamed, especially when compared to Manhattan. Look at the cost of living difference between these two Kansas towns. Lawrence is really just not that special to warrant low incomes and high housing. Just one more example of why Lawrence is considered the San Francisco of the Plains. Except, there isn't any ocean next to our city, so it is hard to justify our "beach front" housing costs. Lawrence has really gone down hill in the last 15-20 years.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago


Then they sit around and whine about not having enough business to rob to expand their tax base. Let's face it, no business wants to land here in Lawrence, and get the tax crap beat out of them. While the work force here is lousy and has nothing to offer but smart A$$ college grads with very little know how away from a computer. The blue collar jobs are gone overseas! Nothing left but service oriented jobs and part time food service.

The leaders give themselves huge raises every year, build millions of sports, jails and schools to keep up with the Jones in Johnson County. Fancy roundabouts and the end never stops. Fritz's hotel, a second Wal*Mart and now they want a new west side sports complex that will cost millions. The taxes keep going up and up and up.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Progressives" only held a majority on the city commission for about four years, while the bankers' and developers' party has controlled the commission for the rest of the last 30 or so years. And in those four years, they put more effort into not being too "radical" than actually governing in a "progressive" way, in a futile attempt to blunt the attacks that came anyway from the local movers and shakers and their mouthpieces at the Chamber of Commerce and the JW.

The problems outlined in this article have one cause, and only one cause. The city's eco-devo efforts have been directed solely at promoting sprawl, which has tremendous short-term benefits for banks and developers, but is really nothing more than an elaborate pyramid scheme, and does nothing to create long-term local, employment opportunities.

We are now reaping what has been sown.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence, is the flip side of Elk Heart Indiana. They both have no jobs. Elk Heart, sells RV's and Lawrence sells KU.

parrothead8 8 years, 5 months ago

“Our emphasis is on biosciences because those type of jobs will push our per capita income up,” Kern said.

Never mind what our population is actually qualified to do.

Anne Tangeman 8 years, 5 months ago

Big Prune - a lot of the 60s and 70s folks actually started businesses that have made downtown thrive from the days when it had a lot more closed up store fronts - - which we spookily have again. The headline - no duh. To thrive Lawrence needs to stay unique and encourage local businesses. There are a lot of issues at play here, but If the big ole retail chains keep filling up downtown it'll be just like every other downtown. I'd like to see more breaks for local businesses. And just because you're all bagging on Lawrence, I'd like to say I still love it.

parrothead8 8 years, 5 months ago

"To thrive Lawrence needs to stay unique and encourage local businesses. There are a lot of issues at play here, but If the big ole retail chains keep filling up downtown it'll be just like every other downtown."

There's the key, folks. The big chains may provide jobs, but most of the profits leave town. Buy local!

Tim Quest 8 years, 5 months ago

It's pretty hilarious that everyone's bashing liberalism for the town's problems, considering the article specifically mentions Madison, WI as a city with high incomes and economic development.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

mysterytrain, I suggest you try to rent a vacant space in downtown Lawrence or anywhere in this town and see how much money, time, and red tape you run into. You'll need to file a site plan downtown or say in a strip mall (Progressives passed this requirement), after paying an architect/engineer to draw it up, give it to the planning department (then wait 30 days for their approval or disapproval -another Progressives passed requirement), if you want to go into a strip mall chances are the city no longer considers the strip mall to have enough parking and you'll need a parking variance (Progressives passed this requirement), time? Another 60 days for a city approval or disapproval. Then there is the building permit process. Might as well forget about trying to actually build something from scratch for sure, if you can find anything to build on because you'll need land a half size larger than before and it will take at least a year to get it all through.

These requirements are not required in other cities, why just Lawrence? A big factor of why Lawrence has vacancies and why Lawrence is considered anti-business.

Downtown used to be the lowest rent district in town and now it is the highest. What has changed?

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

mysterytrain (Anonymous) says… "I'd like to see more breaks for local businesses."

parrothead8 (Anonymous) says… "There's the key, folks. The big chains may provide jobs, but most of the profits leave town. Buy local!"

It is the protectionist policies and corporate welfare for downtown over the last decade that has help lead to this mess. By protecting local business from competition you allow them to keep their prices higher than they would otherwise be able. Makes them richer and everyone else in town poorer.

And if you think the money stays local you're moronic, at least if those local business put their money in a bank that loans out nationwide or if those businesses buy their inventory from anywhere but Lawrence. Paying higher prices "locally" doesn't increase your income, it just makes you poorer.

Speaking of corporate welfare for foreign businesses that makes you poorer, lets not forget Chad Lawhorn's touting of higher taxes for, and Lawrence voting to increased retail sales taxes for the empTy, taking 2.5 million in tax dollars from Lawrencian's each year, year after year, and throwing them down the rat hole. Every dollar in increased taxes is one less dollar to spend locally and MV Transportation isn't even a local company! Millions upon millions in wasted taxes means Lawrence is millions and millions poorer, every year, year after year and getting nothing for their money.

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

uh, yeah-more big business! that will bring in the high-paying jobs!

like wal-mart?

bigprune, what businesses are gonna come save us?

gimme a break.

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

Of the 8 Big 12 schools not in Texas (Lawrence, Ames, Lincoln, Boulder, Columbia, Manhattan, Norman, Oklahoma City) Lawrence's 7.85% retail sales tax is the third highest sales tax rate behind Oklahoma City and Norman. I am not counting Texas schools because Texas has no State income taxes which makes their 8.25% sales tax rate more than tolerable.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 5 months ago

This is NEWS?? I have lived here for over 30 years and have watched a succession of clueless city commissioners, city manager (including and especially the current manager, Mr Clue-less) and this situation has been painfully evident for all of those years. City commissioners are elected by special interests who excell and printing yard signs for their cohorts, and city management has been mired in the dregs of such "isms" as "No cornfield malls!!" Very little positive approach, just like the Republican "party of NO!" So why is this news? beats the stuffing out of me!

del888 8 years, 5 months ago

“We just haven’t seen the increases in jobs or wages. We’ve fallen behind the rest of the region in that regard.”

correction: we DID see an increase in jobs, but we decided it would be better to chase away those jobs and let another town reap the benefits.

classclown 8 years, 5 months ago

It just keeps getting harder to be a snob these days. Though most of those around here are of the pretentious variety.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

puddlegum, I guess the facts are over your head?

dpowers 8 years, 5 months ago

I agree with all of the neo-cons. Heck, let's raize the whole state of Kansas and replace it with a giant coal-fired power plant! That would be the neo-con version of progress!

Danimal 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence is going down the drain. In the years I have lived here crime, taxes and cost of living are all significantly up while safety, quality of life and traffic are all in a steady decline. Woooo, progress!

Practicality 8 years, 5 months ago

yeah right edjayhawk, because downtown jobs pay so much. Give me a break. Please tell me what jobs in Lawrence can an employee make over $40,000 a year? All you guys who want to blame this on Wal-Mart are delusional.

Silly_me 8 years, 5 months ago

A couple of things. Our leaders in Lawrence don't do a very good job of pursuing opportunities for job growth, but part of that is hindered by the competition. When a company is looking to expand, they usually hire a search firm that will match the criteria they are looking for in a new community. As others have mentioned above, there are a lot of roadblocks created by Lawrence rules and regs that almost immediately cross Lawrence off the list. I've heard this from several different business owners in town and it frustrates them that their protests fall on deaf ears.

If then the rules are not going to allow outside businesses into town, then Lawrence needs to help local businesses that show potential to grow. However, again, city leaders have failed to follow through. An example, there is a small technology company in Lawrence with a focus on computer/IT security. It was developing several promising products that showed great potential. A "patent sniffer" out in California found out about these products and filed a very convoluted lawsuit against this company claiming a very vague patent infringement. Since this was a new business, it was at a very delicate stage of its existence and wasn't going to be able to fight this battel by himself..he just didn't have the money. He went to the city to see if they could provide assistance or guidance and they basically slammed the door in his face. He had no choice but to settle the lawsuit, he ended up laying off 5 people and now this once promising business is just a shell of its former self that will probably die on the vine within the next year or so.

Too many of our leaders in this town don't look at the complete picture, including follow up and potential future needs or implications. Heck, just look at the way the roads are constructed around here..

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

silly-me-- I hope the city never involves itself in patent disputes between private parties-- nothing could be further outside of its "job description."

And while Lawrence may very well have some policies that need to be changed in order to facilitate businesses, the single biggest thing that large companies are looking for these days is corporate welfare. I hope Lawrence never ends up winning that race to the bottom.

TRTEX 8 years, 5 months ago

This is one of the major problems that I have with blogs. There are many excellent suggestions posted, some of which may actually be viable!

However, it seems that those individuals with their hand out (ie welfare) are the one’s who actually choose (vote) the individuals who make the important decisions (Obama 2008). So it should be no surprise when a City Manager (whom I don’t believe is elected) is chosen by a group of individuals that are not “Pro” business. The city where I grew up, in South Texas, had this very problem.

All of the business minded, hard working people, must just be too busy to get out and express their opinion at the voter’s box!!!

I have to say that Sigmund touches on a very relevant topic, “What is Local anymore?” I mean even the national economy has become a global economy, which is evident with the large amount of manufacturing jobs moving overseas. And until the powers that be, whether down at 6th and Mass., or in the White House understand, nothing is going to change. I mean the US places the hardest regulations and nearly the highest taxes on the industrial and manufacturing sector in World (may not be the highest, but it is close!) But the local Devo doesn’t seem to learn from big brother.

But I can totally understand those individuals reluctance to speak out, especially when those who do disagree locally or nationally are villainized, and called racist.

I will say, that in the current economic environment any job is better than no job! And there comes a time when everyone needs to evaluate what their paid tax dollars are doing for them. If they feel that the local government is not doing enough to improve their standard of living, then rest assure, there is another city that would welcome their hardworking contributions!

I thought Lawrence was the Berkley of the Midwest….

dontcallmedan 8 years, 5 months ago

The World Company shares some of the blame for lowering the wage average.

TRTEX 8 years, 5 months ago

Poor is in the mind of the Beholder! I have watched my grandfather (born in 1930's), who would be considered poor by the current status quo give his 8 children nearly $500K over the past several years.
So I would NOT say that working class is synonymous with poor!

altarego 8 years, 5 months ago

The new Hooters out on the SLT will anchor the Lawrence renaissance!

Carol Bowen 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence wants to be an independent community when it is really a bedroom community. Bedroom communities cannot sustain themselves . We do not have the right economic mix to be sustainable and independent.

Lawrence has always been an employment ghetto. I heard that term when I moved here in 1979.

Silly_me 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo and Beo, I understand your points and your concerns..I think governments need to be careful when providing assistance into the private sector. I think, however, if the city is going to support programs such as incubators, than at a minimum they need to provide advice and/or guidance if a business under that program gets into trouble. In the example, the patent under dispute wasni't with the Lawrence business but with a partner.

The partner decided they didn't want to pursue a defense even though there was a strong indication that the case would have a good chance of being thrown out. The decision was left up to the Lawrence business owner, but he wasn't at a point in the growth of the company to take on that expense and thus had to cave to the plaintiff.

There are many examples of this city giving tax breaks to outside companies to establish businesses in Lawrence, why can't that happen also to a home grown business?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"However, it seems that those individuals with their hand out (ie welfare) are the one’s who actually choose (vote)"

You are exactly right about who typically votes in Lawrence/Douglas County local elections, TRTEX, but the welfare in this case goes primarily to the most well-connected and the most well-off, and that's the case in most cities across the country. And the fact is, state and federal governments also serve the interests of the wealthy a great deal more than the middle and lower classes.

Carol Bowen 8 years, 5 months ago

By the way, as long as everyone wants to use math, did anyone notice one of the conclusions is bogus?

"That meant a Lawrence resident with an average income and an average mortgage was spending 51.8 percent of their income on housing. " -> $1,246*12 mos./$31,125 = 51.89%

  1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average monthly mortgage payment of $1,346, not an average mortgage. Two people with the same mortgage payment could be paying on mortgages of different sizes.

  2. Not everyone who has an income in Lawrence has a mortgage in Lawrence. (i.e., renters) Hmmm. Come to think of it. Not everyone who has a mortgage in Lawrence has an income in Lawrence. (i.e., Baldwin income, bank in Lawrence) a) Every city would have it's own portions of renters and owners. There would be no way to compare cities. b) Given the number of renters here including students, the actual percent of income used for mortgage payments is probably much less. Mine is 20%. Here's a formula:

monthly mortgage payment x 12 / annual income

Is anyone out there paying 51% of their income on a mortgage? So who came up with 51.8%, Tom Kern, Roger Zalneraitis, or Chad Longhorn?

TRTEX 8 years, 5 months ago

Excellent observation Here_me!

The numbers did not seem to make sense to me either.

Take for instance college Station, TX. They very well could be considered a suburb of the greater Houston, TX area, and up until the recent gas hike, they were well on pace to be consumed. It is well known that the money from Houston owns half of College station, and this is because nearly half the Tex A&M student body is from Houston. And many don't rent, they buy.

Likewise, the economy in lawrence would make it either a distant suburb of KC or topeka for that matter, if indeed Lawrence is a commuter town.

But it would interesting to know if this study took into account the income of those individuals that own 2nd homes in Lawrence, or rental companies that turn a profit buying homes and renting them for twice the mortgage. (I am by no means against this practice, my father raised us with a city job (for the benefits, because lord knows they don"t pay) and had rental properties as a secondary source of income.)

I have to believe if those incomes were included, or rather the homes those individuals (lawrence non-residents) owned were not included, the numbers would be very different.

On another note: Just_Another_Bozo_on_the_bus...

I have to agree with you on one point , "state and federal governments also serve the interests of the wealthy a great deal more than the middle and lower classes.

My only justification for this practice is, where do you get the money to pay for the programs and government help offered to the middle and lower class. And I would stress lower class, because I think that the middle class has it worse, paying higher taxes, and not qualifying for most government assistance (non-welfare, if I may).

So it may very well be in the best interest for "us" in the middle and lower classes, that the government chooses to serve the needs of those who put more into the system. Of course I am not talking percentage of income, I mean bottom dollar. Because I do realize that 20% of a $300K income is night and day from 20% of a $30K income.

HogJiver 8 years, 5 months ago

Many people in Lawrence work for cash and don't report their income. Now you know how they can afford those fancy condos/

Thats_messed_up 8 years, 5 months ago

Everything's half-a$s in Lawrence: The two lane roads, the deplorable street condition, a highway thats still not built after 20 years, restaurants, shopping, the contractors who won't show up for less than $50 an hour, total lack of family activities, Catholic school that only goes to 6th grade in a city of 90,000, small houses for giant prices, retarded traffic management, stop lights every 100 yards, wasteful roundabouts, one pool for the entire city that gets pooped in every 2 hours, sloppy neighborhoods covered in 12" high weeds, etc. etc etc It's amazing Lawrence is still the most arrogant city in Kansas.

MyName 8 years, 5 months ago


Bad trolls are bad.

Who cares about contractors, Catholic High Schools (I guess that means not that many of the 90K people are in the parish), your idea of how traffic should be "managed", your idea of what "family activities" are out there, or the fact that you completely ignore the second pool that they built on the west side of town (and we got a sales tax increase on).

These have next to nothing to do with jobs and income, which is the point of the article. In fact, if people are making below average incomes working here, and they still like living in the town, then maybe the problem isn't the town, but the jobs and employment situation. If people are making more money, they can put some of that back into the community. But if people aren't making as much, then they're going to always be "making do".

MyName 8 years, 5 months ago

What confuses the heck out of me is how all of these posters try and make this out to be a slam against the so-called "progressives" when they don't run things in this town. They make alot more noise per person, but nearly every single idea they've hatched at the city level has been shot down. And the fact that none of you can point to a single program or proposal to blame for this situation shows exactly how clueless you all are about it.

This pattern where the housing prices greatly exceed the average income is that of a bedroom community. All of the high paying jobs are out of town, so alot of the people that work here are the ones that cater to the commuters (and rent because they can't afford to own). There are still a few big employers that are here, but that is the exception to the trend right now.

It may be that they can attract an employer in spite of all this, but if you look at the competition, most middle class blue collar type jobs are going to pick Topeka or KC over us. And as those cities are much bigger, they can afford to offer bigger incentives if they want them bad enough. What that leaves us with are employers who are dependent upon the university somehow, or small businesses that have roots here. If those can be built up here, then there will be more good jobs even though there will be fewer big employers.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 5 months ago

it seems that the county keeps jacking up the value of homes in this area. What is the purpose for this increase year after year? tax revenue? Just because a home is an investment, doesn't mean that it's value should automatically increase every single year. I make well above the median income, but with my 401k, child support, car payment, governments big grabby hands, etc. there is no way I can afford any home in this town. and the ones that are possibly within reach are absolute piles of crap.

SpunKey 8 years, 5 months ago

What do you expect from the only state where minmum wage is still less than $3/hour! (and, yes, many, small businesses do still not qualify for Federal Min wage).

Wages are negotiated in our "supply and demand" market. Right now with unemployment nationally.... wages can drop even more!

This isn't news.... same old story for decades. Numbers change a little, but never enough. The other stat that goes with this is average education on the street. People come for college and never leave.

Plus Lenexa and other cities in the area don't have community programs for poor (homeless shelters, handicap assistance, etc.)... so they send their needy to Lawerence. And those incomes from VA, Medicare and Medicaid sure sink the town average.

More numbers to show how Lawrence's sensitivity to society backfires!

bd 8 years, 5 months ago

One of lawrences largest employer(KU) is also the lowest paying(non-professional) , electricians make $15 hr., janitors $7, what a joke , got to keep the masses down!

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