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The Kansas City Metro Posts Solid Population Growth

April 25, 2019

The Kansas City metro area added 16,392 new residents between 2017 and 2018 according to data released from the Census Bureau. This is the 30th largest increase among 53 large metro areas (those with 1 million or more people).

Southern metros saw the most growth. The Dallas-Ft. Worth area added a whopping 131,767 people over the same period, followed by Phoenix (96,268), Houston (91,689), Atlanta (75,702) and Orlando (60,045).

Large MSA (1 Million or More) Population Change 2017 -2018
MSA  2017 Population   2018 Population   Num. Growth  Pct. Growth
Dallas-Ft. Worth     7,407,944     7,539,711                 131,767 1.8%
Phoenix     4,761,694     4,857,962                   96,268 2.0%
Houston     6,905,695     6,997,384                   91,689 1.3%
Atlanta     5,874,249     5,949,951                   75,702 1.3%
Orlando     2,512,917     2,572,962                   60,045 2.4%
Seattle     3,884,469     3,939,363                   54,894 1.4%
Austin     2,115,230     2,168,316                   53,086 2.5%
Riverside     4,570,427     4,622,361                   51,934 1.1%
Tampa-St. Petersburg     3,091,225     3,142,663                   51,438 1.7%
Washington D.C.     6,200,001     6,249,950                   49,949 0.8%
Miami     6,149,687     6,198,782                   49,095 0.8%
Las Vegas     2,183,310     2,231,647                   48,337 2.2%
Charlotte     2,524,863     2,569,213                   44,350 1.8%
San Antonio     2,474,274     2,518,036                   43,762 1.8%
Denver     2,892,979     2,932,415                   39,436 1.4%
Minneapolis-St. Paul     3,592,669     3,629,190                   36,521 1.0%
Boston     4,844,597     4,875,390                   30,793 0.6%
Nashville     1,900,584     1,930,961                   30,377 1.6%
Jacksonville     1,504,841     1,534,701                   29,860 2.0%
Raleigh     1,334,342     1,362,540                   28,198 2.1%
Sacramento     2,320,381     2,345,210                   24,829 1.1%
Columbus     2,082,475     2,106,541                   24,066 1.2%
Portland     2,456,462     2,478,810                   22,348 0.9%
Indianapolis     2,026,723     2,048,703                   21,980 1.1%
San Francisco     4,710,693     4,729,484                   18,791 0.4%
Philadelphia     6,078,451     6,096,372                   17,921 0.3%
San Diego     3,325,468     3,343,364                   17,896 0.5%
Salt Lake City     1,205,238     1,222,540                   17,302 1.4%
Kansas City     2,127,259     2,143,651                   16,392 0.8%
Richmond     1,292,911     1,306,172                   13,261 1.0%
Oklahoma City     1,383,249     1,396,445                   13,196 1.0%
Tucson     1,027,502     1,039,073                   11,571 1.1%
Cincinnati     2,179,858     2,190,209                   10,351 0.5%
Grand Rapids     1,060,326     1,069,405                     9,079 0.9%
San Jose     1,993,582     1,999,107                     5,525 0.3%
Detroit     4,321,704     4,326,442                     4,738 0.1%
Louisville     1,292,809     1,297,301                     4,492 0.3%
Providence     1,617,057     1,621,337                     4,280 0.3%
Baltimore     2,798,587     2,802,789                     4,202 0.2%
Virginia Beach     1,724,876     1,728,733                     3,857 0.2%
Memphis     1,347,576     1,350,620                     3,044 0.2%
Birmingham     1,149,685     1,151,801                     2,116 0.2%
Milwaukee     1,575,151     1,576,113                        962 0.1%
Buffalo     1,129,660     1,130,152                        492 0.0%
New Orleans     1,270,465     1,270,399                         (66) 0.0%
St. Louis     2,805,850     2,805,465                       (385) 0.0%
Hartford     1,206,719     1,206,300                       (419) 0.0%
Rochester     1,071,589     1,071,082                       (507) 0.0%
Cleveland     2,058,549     2,057,009                   (1,540) -0.1%
Pittsburgh     2,330,283     2,324,743                   (5,540) -0.2%
Los Angeles   13,298,709   13,291,486                   (7,223) -0.1%
New York   19,998,951   19,979,477                 (19,474) -0.1%
Chicago     9,520,784     9,498,716                 (22,068) -0.2%

Kansas City’s growth was evenly split between natural growth (births minus deaths) and growth through immigration (both international and net domestic migration).

Pop Change by Source April 2019

This growth brings our 14-county metro population to a total of 2,143,651, making us the 31st largest metro in the U.S. Last year, Kansas City was the 30th largest, but Austin, Texas, pulled ahead by adding 53,086 residents.

Within the metro, Johnson County saw the most growth between 2017 and 2018, followed by Clay, Jackson, Platte and Cass counties. These five counties accounted for 96 percent of the metro’s growth.

Pop. 2017 Pop. 2018 Pop. Growth 2017-18 Share of Metro Growth
Johnson County, Kansas       591,284        597,555 6,271 38%
Clay County, Missouri       242,593        246,365 3,772 23%
Jackson County, Missouri       697,720        700,307 2,587 16%
Platte County, Missouri       101,219        102,985 1,766 11%
Cass County, Missouri       103,610        104,954 1,344 8%
Leavenworth County, Kansas         81,032          81,352 320 2%
Miami County, Kansas         33,413          33,680 267 2%
Linn County, Kansas            9,696            9,750 54 0%
Ray County, Missouri         22,839          22,883 44 0%
Caldwell County, Missouri            9,072            9,108 36 0%
Wyandotte County, Kansas       165,313        165,324 11 0%
Bates County, Missouri         16,310          16,320 10 0%
Lafayette County, Missouri         32,605          32,598 -7 0%
Clinton County, Missouri         20,553          20,470 -83 -1%

Kansas City’s Economy is Growing, but Not Keeping Pace with Peer Metros

April 1, 2019

To gauge our region’s economic progress, KC Rising partners compare the Kansas City metro economy to 30 peer metros on a variety of measures. KC Rising’s goal is for Kansas City to rank in the top 10 metros in each of these measures.

Beginning with this post, we will take a closer look at some of these metrics. Let’s start with perhaps the ultimate indicator of a healthy, growing economy: Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is the total value of all finished goods and services produced in an economy in one year. In 2017, Kansas City’s GDP was $131 billion (in current dollars). Among our 30 peers we rank 20th. We clearly have some work to do to meet our goal.

The good news is we are growing. Between 2013 and 2017, the regional economy grew 6 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

The bad news is, we are not growing nearly fast enough to compete with our peers. Over the same period, our peer group saw GDP growth of 12 percent. Only four metros (St. Louis, Virginia Beach, Memphis and Milwaukee) grew slower than we did.

So why is our GDP growth lagging? The reasons aren’t completely clear. The Kansas City region specializes in growth sectors like IT and Finance, and we’ve seen steady declines in employment in the information sector (think telecommunications), but that decline has been more than offset by growth in other sectors. We remain a strong transportation hub and we have done well at retaining most of our manufacturing jobs. But ultimately, GDP isn’t just about jobs – it measures the value of the goods and services the people who hold those jobs produce. Even though we have high employment numbers in some growth sectors, we have to ask ourselves whether those workers are producing new, high-value goods and services. Or, are we providing back-office support for other regions that are more innovative and productive? Other KCRising data suggests a strong correlation between innovation and economic growth.

GDP Chart 4_2019

GDP is an important and insightful metric to monitor, but it requires patience. Kansas City’s economy is huge. If our metro were its own country, it’s economy would be the 56th largest in the world. Even with a greater focus on innovation, picking up enough economic momentum to get closer to the top 10 will take time.

It’s important to also look at changes in other metrics where the needle can be moved a little faster, such as quality jobs, income, education and equity, and we’ll take a close look at some of those in upcoming posts. If we make bigger strides in these measures, our overall economy will also grow at a more robust pace.


About KC Rising: Founded in 2014, KC Rising works to strengthen the regional economy and foster inclusive prosperity by focusing on three economic drivers: trade, people and ideas. In 2019, KC Rising has introduced a new emphasis on three enablers of economic prosperity: policy, place and inclusion. KC Rising is led by the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Kansas City Area Development Council, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-America Regional Council. For more information, visit

Kansas City Starts 2019 at 1.1 Million Jobs

March 15, 2019


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kansas City MSA added 13,500 jobs over the 12 months ending in January. The top growth sectors were education/health care, government (mostly local government), professional business services and manufacturing.
Our regional unemployment rate climbed to 3.8 percent in January, up from 3.1 percent in December.

Check out our monthly newsletter for details.

MARC Introduces Easy Access Census Data Tool for Cities and Counties

November 2, 2018

There is a LOT of data out there and quickly finding the one number you need can sometimes seem impossible. Well, MARC’s new Easy Access Census Data tool is here to help. This new tool allows users to select data on any city or county in the nine-county MARC region. Data is available on a wide array of topics including population by age/race, education, poverty and housing.

Check it out and let us know what you think.DrA_to8WwAA-qrY

KC Economy Solid, But Could Be Stronger

June 21, 2018

Kansas City’s economy is doing well, but could be doing better according to Dr. Frank Lenk, MARC’s Director of Research Services, who presented at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-Year Economic Forecast event.

According to Lenk, the U.S. economy is in the midst of the second longest expansion in history. This expansion has not been particularly robust in terms of the rate of growth, but it has been consistent.

For the most part, Kansas City’s economy has kept pace with the nation, but there is some concern that it is falling behind some peer metros.

The full presentation is below:


KCMO Leads Metro in Total Population Growth

May 24, 2018

Kansas City, Missouri, is the region’s largest city, and also its fastest growing. The city added 6,825 new residents between 2016 and 2017. Overland Park, Olathe, Lee’s Summit and Liberty round out the top five.

In terms of rate of growth, Spring Hill, Kansas tops the list as their population grew 7.5 percent between 2016 and 2017. Basehor, Smithville, Parkville, Peculiar and Kearney all saw their populations grow by more than 3 percent over the year.

SOURCE: US Census Bureau Population Estimates 2017

The data for all cities can be found here.

Where We Get Our College Grads

May 18, 2018

Some interesting new data was released earlier this week that sheds some light on what institutions provide Kansas City with degreed workers. The data  from EMSI, available via the Wall Street Journal, shows that the Kansas City metro tends to draw recent college graduates from a wide area in the Midwest.

Topping the list is our very own UMKC. Over 60 percent of UMKC graduates stay in the Kansas City area. The metro also attracts a third of KU graduates, a quarter of K-State graduates and about 16 percent of Mizzou graduates. Missouri State is also a key contributor, with 13 percent of its graduates moving to Kansas City after earning their degrees.

Although the shares are smaller, the region also draws a significant number of graduates from regional schools like Creighton, Iowa State, Nebraska, Wichita State and Drake.

KC College Migration

For comparison, let’s look at Indianapolis, a metro that is similar in size and economic performance to Kansas City. In terms of attracting people with degrees, Indy dominates the state (and there are a lot of colleges and universities in Indiana), but it does not have a significant influx from other states.

IND College Migration just map

Contrast these two maps with the Dallas-Ft. Worth map below. Like Kansas City and Indianapolis, Dallas is a major draw for graduates from nearby colleges and universities; however, Dallas also is a big draw from graduates from a much larger area as well.  Granted, Dallas has a much larger economy than Kansas City and Indianapolis, but it does say something that they are able to attract degree holders in larger numbers from a much larger area. Dallas’ economy is creating a lot of jobs. For the year ending in March 2018, it added over 100,000 jobs, while Kansas City and Indianapolis added 16,600 and 19,200 jobs, respectively.

Dallas College Migration just map

Clearly, a larger, growing economy will provide more job options to graduates as they begin their careers. They will also be willing to move across the country to take advantage of these options.

While the comparisons to other metros are interesting, we think the biggest takeaway here is how important the ties to the local colleges and universities are to the Kansas City region’s workforce and economy. We may feel that Kansas City’s dynamic economy would be the best choice for recent grads from anywhere in the country, but the fact is, the vast majority of new grads entering our labor force will be from regional schools. Even in places like Dallas, Seattle or San Jose that draw graduates from farther away, the majority come from closer schools.

This is why initiatives that bring industry and education together to discuss workforce needs and challenges, like the Talent-to-Industry Exchange, are so important. We need to make sure that the colleges and universities that send the most graduates to the Kansas City metro offer degree programs that align well with the industries that drive our regional economy.

Through KC Rising, GradForce KC and other regional initiatives, we are seeing an unprecedented level of collaboration between the region’s businesses and educational institutions. Building up our human capital is vital for the region to thrive in today’s talent-based economy.

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