LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
New economic numbers show Kansas, Missouri laggards; Eudora ranks high in study of best places to own a home, Lawrence ranks not so well
Maybe we've spent all our energy arguing about whether a football game ought to be played in Arrowhead Stadium. Or maybe we've spent all our money trying to lure businesses from one side of the street in Kansas City to the other. Whatever the case, Kansas and Missouri have missed out on the party, according to the latest batch of economic statistics.
Both states saw their gross domestic products grow at rates much slower than their peers in the Great Plains and central portion of the country. Missouri, at 0.8 percent, had the slowest rate of GDP growth of any state west of the Mississippi River. What's worse for the Show Me State is this latest batch of numbers continues a dismal four-year trend. When Missourians talk about the foundation of their economy, I'm beginning to think they're really talking about the cement blocks that hold up all their vehicles.
Kansas' numbers weren't as bad. It had a growth rate of 1.9 percent, which actually is slightly above the national average of 1.8 percent. But before you unfurl the Mission Accomplished banner, know that Kansas ranked second to last in the Great Plains region — behind Missouri — and had the sixth lowest rate of growth of any state west of the Mississippi. (Why didn't you just ask? There are 22 continental states west of the Mississippi. Now you have to figure out how to fold that map back up.)
These numbers are important because GDP is basically the broadest measure of how a state's economy is performing. It looks at the value of products being produced in essentially every industry operating in a state, from agriculture to manufacturing to tourism. Huh, who would have guessed it, Missouri? Maybe SEC aren't the three most important letters in the alphabet.
Kansas and Missouri are in the Plains region, as defined by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The average growth rate in the Plains region was 2.5 percent. Kansas and Missouri were the only states in the region to be below average. Here's a look:
— North Dakota: 9.7 percent
— South Dakota: 3.1 percent
— Nebraska: 3.0 percent
— Iowa: 2.9 percent
— Minnesota: 2.8 percent
— Kansas: 1.9 percent
— Missouri: 0.8 percent.
Our other neighbors, Oklahoma and Colorado, aren't in the Plains region, but I see you peering through the drapes. You want to know what they are up to as well. Oklahoma grew by 4.2 percent and Colorado by 3.8 percent.
Sometimes it's useful to look at longer-term trends. The latest report provided GDP growth numbers dating back to 2010, and they show two things: North Dakotans strike another batch of oil every time they flush the toilet, and I'm really not unduly picking on Missouri. Missouri's numbers, as distinguished economists would say, really stink. Kansas' numbers, in economic parlance, are moderately trending towards stinkyness. Here's a look at the average, annual growth rate since 2010:
— North Dakota: 11.6 percent
— Nebraska: 3.1 percent
— Minnesota 2.75 percent
— South Dakota: 2.75
— Iowa: 2.4 percent
— Kansas: 2.3 percent
— Missouri: 0.75 percent
In terms of why Kansas didn't fare better in 2013, the report provides some clues. Kansas was the only state in the Plains Region that saw its construction industry and its durable-goods manufacturing industry shrink. Those are two parts of the recovery that didn't find Kansas. Interestingly, Kansas' agriculture industry also didn't add as much to the state's GDP as you might expect. It added 0.6 percent, while the average growth for agriculture in the Plains states was 0.81.
There are probably other factors at play here as well, but I don't have the time to find them. I have to help you fold up that map, and then I need to go buy a toilet in North Dakota.
In other news and notes from around town:
• One community in the area did recently fare well in a report involving numbers. Eudora has made the list of best places for homeownership in Kansas, according to the researchers at NerdWallet, a financial website.
Eudora ranked No. 13 on the list. A big driver of its ranking was that the average homeowner in Eudora spends just 26.7 percent of their household income on homeowner costs (things such as mortgages, taxes, insurance and such). Generally, anything under 30 percent is considered affordable.
The best city in the state for homeownership was Andover, a suburb of Wichita. The average homeowner there spends only 22.2 percent of the household income on homeowner costs.
There was one area city that did not fare so well on the list. I think you know it. The survey measured only those communities with 5,000 or more people, which in Kansas totals 59 communities. Lawrence ranked No. 59 on NerdWallet's list. Lawrence partially was hurt because of the methodology. The homeownership rate is part of what NerdWallet looks at, and Lawrence's college community status results in a low homeownership rate. More people rent in Lawrence than own.
But Lawrence's homeowner costs also weren't good. The average Lawrence homeowner spends 39.2 percent of his household income on homeowner costs. It looks like Manhattan was the only city that had a higher homeowner cost percentage. It checked in at 40.4 percent. But the NerdWallet folks gave Manhattan the No. 58 ranking, I believe because its median home price was lower than Lawrence's and its population growth rate is higher than Lawrence's.
In terms of other area cities, here's a look at their rank and the homeowner cost percentage:
No. 2: Spring Hill, 25.6 percent
No. 5: Gardner: 29 percent
No. 9: Leawood: 23.5 percent
No. 10: Olathe: 26.2 percent
No. 13: Eudora: 26.7 percent
No. 17 Shawnee: 27.5 percent
No. 25 Overland Park: 28.6 percent
No. 41: Lenexa: 28.1 percent
No. 50: Topeka: 32.2 percent
No. 51: Ottawa: 32 percent
No. 52 Kansas City: 37.9 percent
No. 54 Leavenworth: 29.9 percent
No. 58 Manhattan: 40.4 percent
No. 59: Lawrence: 39.2 percent
You can see the full set of rankings here.