New Kansas City Metro GDP Numbers Are Not Bad — But They're Not Great

Sep 20, 2016

Despite recent development activity and construction projects, like the RideKC Streetcar, Kansas City showed unimpressive economic growth between 2014 and 2015.
Credit Jason Doss / Wikimedia Commons

The latest indicators of Kansas City’s economic growth aren’t bad — they're just ... disappointing.

That’s the reaction from the Mid-America Regional Council to the newest metro-level GDP numbers for Kansas City.

Between 2014 and 2015, Kansas City’s economy grew 1.5 percent. Jeff Pinkerton, senior researcher at MARC, was a little surprised by that number.

“Employment is at an all-time high right now, there seems to be a lot of construction activity, a lot of economic development activity going on right in the Kansas City area and typically that’s indicative of the economy growing and growing at a pretty healthy pace,” Pinkerton says.

But Kansas City was near the bottom of the list of similarly-sized metro areas.

Denver, Colorado, and Nashville, Tennessee, whose metros are comparable to Kansas City's, each grew nearly 4 percent.

Kansas City did outpace nearby peer cities St. Louis and Indianapolis. 

Pinkerton says there's no reason to worry just yet. 

“I really can’t say why the number wasn’t as robust as I had hoped between 2014 and 2015, but I think we have a lot of early signs that will tell us we’re on the right path."  

He says a lot of the development projects currently underway will affect the metro's growth between 2015 and 2016.

He also points out this is only one measure of economic growth. According to U.S. Census data released last week, Kansas City had one of the highest increases in household income between 2014 and 2015 — from $57,062 to $60,502, adjusted for inflation. 

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter for KCUR, Connect with her on twitter @larodrig