Sept. 30--The nation's weak economic recovery will continue to limit job growth in the Kansas City area for the next two years, according to a forecast released Monday.
It's solemn news for job hunters. They've been promised better times for years and instead endured the reality of a slow rebound from the Great Recession.
Monday's forecast from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce chucked the upbeat and miscalculated outlooks of recent years for a more modest prediction.
Expect more of the same.
"While there is a possibility that the U.S. economy will suddenly shift into a higher gear, this does not seem to be the most likely outcome," said the forecast penned by Frank Lenk, director of research services at the Mid-America Regional Council.
And that means the chamber's annual forecast, to be presented at a breakfast event Monday morning, contains one of its weakest job outlooks in years.
This year likely will have seen 12,300 new jobs pop up in the Kansas City area before it ends, the forecast said. Job creation rises to 14,300 next year, still below the area's average of about 15,000, the report said.
Two years from now, the Kansas City area economy likely will generate 16,700 new jobs, according to the report.
It's a sharp contrast from the forecasts heard by those attending prior chamber events.
Two years ago, for example, the forecast was that this year, 2013, likely would generate 36,700 new area jobs. Reality looks much closer to one third that many.
And Monday's report forecasts 2014 job growth that will be only 40 percent of the 2014 job growth predicted less than a year ago.
It's not that there isn't improvement. Kansas City's economy has beaten the national recovery's pace so far this year, the report said.
Area economic growth likely will come in at 2.7 percent for 2013, compared with only 2 percent for the nation, according to the report.
"The Kansas City recovery seems like it is on firmer footing than at any time since the beginning of the Great Recession," Lenk wrote.
Manufacturing jobs have gotten a boost from the Ford and General Motors assembly plants here. Construction work is up with a rebound in housing.
And that means, after three years of weaker job growth than the nation, 2013 "marks the first time the Kansas City region added jobs more quickly than the nation," the report said.
The forecast calls for the recovery in the Kansas City area to more closely match the national rebound for the next two years.
Its predicted modest job gains reflect a fundamental decision to avoid the mistaken assumptions of recent years that the economy simply will get better faster next year.
Such forecasts "have been frustrated by the unusually slow pace of the current recovery," Lenk wrote.
The past's unrequited optimism had come from national economic forecasts produced by Moody's Analytics, a respected firm that has overestimated the recovery along with many other forecasting groups.
Lenk's report made clear that Moody's again offers a "baseline" or most-likely forecast of an accelerating recovery and faster jobs grow for the nation.
It also contains a second forecast that basically says the economy continues to muddle through at its current modest rate of recovery. More of the same.
Lenk chose that more conservative national outlook as the basis for predicting Kansas City's economic fate, using an economic model of the local economy designed by Regional Economic Models Inc.
The results show that the area economy -- currently growing faster than the national recovery -- slows next year to roughly the national average and then lags the nation in 2015 but only by a bit.
The optimism in the new forecast lies in its measured expectations. It predicts a return to normal jog growth in the Kansas City area in 2015 even if the national economic rebound stays at its lackluster pace.
And that leaves lots of room for surprise on the upside.
To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to email@example.com.