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But they’re people. Think of them as ideas. Talents. Brains. Perspectives. Opinions. Dreams and aspirations help a business succeed. Without access to human capital, companies stagnate or falter.
And when companies can’t find people, they relocate, investing millions in capital someplace else, just for access to highly prized ideas, talents, brains, perspectives, dreams and aspirations.
So what does that mean for Wichita?
Imagine you’re flipping through your Wichita East High School yearbook, with about 500 students in your graduating class. You’re probably admiring your friend’s goofy smile or the crazy hairdos and outfits of the decade.
Now imagine ripping out the last 20 people from your class. Just taking them out completely.
This is pretty much what Wichita has gone through. Between 2011 and 2013, Wichita lost 5,400 households — about 4 percent of its families. And while some households are moving in, they don’t even come close to closing the gap.
The only reason Wichita grows at all is because there are more births than deaths. When it comes to unemployment, Wichita pretty much follows the trends at the national level. But when you look at overall labor force, something interesting happens.
The workforce in the U.S. grows steadily, but Wichita’s work force drops in several spots on the chart. This means that workers are either exiting the workforce entirely or are taking their talents to other cities. Chung said that if Wichita’s labor market were operating like most other cities, Wichita would have about 10,000 more workers in their prime earning and spending years.
Chung said one of Wichita’s biggest exports is people. And when you look at the breakdown of who’s leaving, it gets even worse.
The households that left between 2011 and 2013 were making an average of $70,800 per year. The ones coming in where making about $12,500 less, meaning Wichita lost a total of $155 million in total income.
That’s a lot of value.
So let’s go back to that ripped up yearbook. Pages will probably continue to fall out, unless Wichita faces the challenge of human capital head-on. And maybe, we’ll actually be able to add some pages back in by making Wichita a destination for workers, and the businesses that need them. Click here (link on page) to learn more about the human capital challenge.
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