Regional Monthly Workforce Indicators

Wages rise, job growth slows in July while region's unemployment rate remains steady

Key Highlights

  • Wages hit a new high, an increase of 10% over the same time last year
  • Employment grew by 2,700 jobs in July, less than the revised 4,500 increase in June.
  • The region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment remained steady at 2.8% for the third month in a row.
  • Average hourly earnings increased 55 cents in July relative to June to $31.72. Wage growth in the region is up 10% over July 2022.
Statue in front of Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City


Kansas City employers added 2,700 jobs in July, 40% less than the 4,500 increase in June.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment numbers for July show continued but slowing growth between June and July. At 1,148,400, the region’s total number of non-farm wage and salary jobs now stands 41,900 above its pre-recession peak.

Employment — Seasonally adjusted

This graph shows the current number of jobs in the Kansas City metro as determined by the monthly Current Employment Statistics survey. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that attempts to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal the underlying trend in how employment and unemployment change from month to month.

Peer Metro Comparison

In July, Kansas City moved into the sixth spot among benchmark metros in employment growth rate over the past 12 months.

Employment growth among Greater Kansas City’s benchmark metros breaks into three tiers. In the top tier are cities where the number of jobs increased between 3-4% in the past 12 months. This tier includes Charlotte, Nashville, Austin, Raleigh, and Indianapolis. The Kansas City region saw 2.9% growth and is at the top of second-tier metros with annual growth above 2%. This tier included Cincinnati and Portland. The third tier of metros includes those where job growth was below 2%. Minneapolis (1.6%), Columbus (1.3%) and Denver (0.5%) were the slowest-growing metros over the past 12 months.


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.8% in July. The rate has remained steady since a slight uptick in May. This is still below historical averages and continues to suggest a very strong labor market.

The Kansas City metropolitan area’s labor market remained at 2.8% in July. Sub-3% unemployment rates still signify a very strong labor market. This is the second lowest rate among the benchmark metros. Only Nashville (2.5%) has a lower unemployment rate.

Unemployment rate — Seasonally adjusted

Employment by Industry

Job growth

Fastest growing industries:

  • Leisure & Hospitality grew by 8,700 jobs
  • Health Services & Private Education grew by 6,200 jobs
  • 'Professional/Technical Services grew by 4,400 jobs
  • Local Government grew by 3,800
  • Mining, Logging, & Construction grew by 3,500 jobs

Job loss

Slowest growing industries:

  • Information increased by 200 jobs
  • Wholesale Trade increased by 200 jobs
  • Federal Government increased by 100 jobs
  • Retail Trade decreased by 200 jobs
  • Administrative Support and Waste Management decreased by 1,500 jobs

Nearly all industries have grown over the past year. Leisure and Hospitality continues to lead the way with an increase of 8,700 jobs, a growth rate that reflects an industry moving past pandemic recovery and reaching new employment highs as people increasingly return to being out and about with others. Overall, the job growth figures show an economy where demand has shifted from goods to services. This is reflected in the 12-month job growth rates of Health Services and Private Education (6,400 jobs), Professional/Technical Services (4,100 jobs), and Financial Services (4,400 jobs). Among the goods-producing sectors, Construction and Mining continues to grow strongly (3,500 jobs), largely as a result of robust growth in industrial space development. Local Government (3,800 jobs) shows strong growth as well. This category includes public schools and appears that the normal decline in employment as the school year ends was significantly less this year than in years past, making July employment levels significantly higher. This may reflect increased efforts at teacher retention, though it is not completely clear this is the case.

On the other hand, the 12-month loss of 1,500 jobs in Administrative Support and Waste Management indicates a decline in the demand for at least some business services, such as the hiring of temporary employees which is a large part of this sector. Coupled with the topline deceleration in total employment and a reduction of nearly 1,300 reduction in job postings compared to this time last year, these indicators suggest businesses have turned a bit more cautious with respect to hiring.

Average private hourly earnings

Average hourly earnings increased 55 cents in July relative to June, to $31.72. This is the third straight month of wage growth.

The region’s tight labor market continues to support wage growth. Average private hourly earnings reached a new high of $31.72 in July, up about 55 cents from the prior month and $2.80 from July 2022. Compared to a year ago, wages overall grew by over 10%.

While good news, the region’s workers still have a long way to go to achieve the kinds of wage increases their counterparts in other benchmark metros have experienced since the COVID-19 recession. Average wages for Kansas City area workers are only 10.6% higher now than in January 2020. The region is next to last in terms of wage growth among peer metros. Average workers in Portland (up 23.6%), Columbus (up 21.75%) and Nashville (up 17.6%) have received the highest wage increases over that time. As a result, when looking at the entire post-COVID-19 recession recovery period, the region’s wage increases rank 10th out of the 11 benchmark metros, only beating out Indianapolis (up 4.4%)

Hiring Trends

Each month, we provide data on jobs that have been most in demand in a key regional occupational sector based on employer job postings.


The economy is currently giving mixed signs, with job growth slowing from previous months, wage growth continuing to climb, and unemployment holding steady. When the data no longer paint a clear picture, this is often a sign that the economy is near a turning point. Yet, none of the downward signals are very strong while the upward signals remain resilient. As a result, it may be the case that this time, a period where trends aren’t clear is simply what a “soft landing” looks like.

Last updated Sept. 13, 2023.