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Prosperity at a Crossroads

June 12, 2014

by Jeff Pinkerton

The keynote speaker at MARC’s 18th Annual Regional Assembly on Friday will be Amy Liu from the Brookings Institution. Liu will present the highlights of a report co-written by Brookings and MARC that takes an honest look at the economic future of Kansas City.

One of the report’s findings is concerning: while Kansas City’s economy is growing, it seems to have lost some of its edge relative to the U.S. as a whole. The chart below shows the Kansas City metro outperformed the nation in economic output, job growth and wages during the 1990s, but lagged behind in the following decade.

Growth in Output, Jobs and Wages


The two time periods are quite different. There was a recession in the early 1990s, but overall the decade was economically strong at both local and national levels. The 2000s were marked by two recessions, the second being the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The big question is: what has changed? Is Kansas City simply struggling to regain its footing since the recession, and in time our industry mix will eventually push us back to outperforming the U.S.? Or has the economy fundamentally changed, meaning we need to change with it in order to compete?

The full report will be released on the MARC website after the annual meeting. We will dive into the data and attempt to answer these questions, and, as always, discover even more questions.

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