Jeff Pinkerton, senior researcher with the Mid-America Regional Council, says Cass County continues to be headed on a track for continued population growth.
“According to our population forecast between now and 2040, Cass County is going to grow by 60,000 people,” Pinkerton said. “That’s a pretty doggone significant.”
Pinkerton was the guest speaker at the fall Cass County Corporation of Economic Development quarterly meeting Oct. 24.
Mayors and economic development leaders from across the county attended the luncheon at the Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club in Lake Winnebago.
“People are obviously attracted to a very high quality of life, good schools, and things like that,” said Pinkerton, of Cass County.
Pinkerton said a 60 percent population growth isn’t going to be without challenges, which includes maintaining the county’s quality of life standards.
Another piece of good news Pinkerton shared was in the area of employment.
Cass County is expected to add 19,000 new jobs within the given timeframe.
Right now, the county has about 23,000 jobs.
“That’s a pretty significant increase in employment,” he said.
Pinkerton added that currently about 12,000 people commute to Cass County from other areas of the region for work. Approximately 30,000 residents find work outside of the county.
In the Kansas City region as a whole, Pinkerton said new job growth is expected to remain steady.
“For the most part, we’re still feeling the ramifications from the great recession,” he said. “Employment is definitely lagging.”
During the recession, the region lost 12 million jobs between 2007 and 2011. As of now, only 9 million of the lost jobs have made a comeback.
“I think the biggest problem we have is people still feeling a little bit concerned about their employment situation and not being able to participate as fully in the economy as they would like to,” Pinkerton said. “Personal consumption is two thirds of our economy and if the consumer isn’t there to drive the economy going forward, we’re going to have ramifications.”
He said Kansas City is expected to add 15,000 new jobs annually over the next year, but that is only enough positions to maintain the current employment rate.
“In the 1990s, it was common to add 30,000-40,000 new jobs (a year),” Pinkerton said.
New job creation in the Kansas City area is limited to few innovation initiatives, a decrease in new firm start-ups, and limited exports.
“We have weathered an economic event unlike any of us have ever seen, and that has brought about some very fundamental changes into the core of our economy,” Pinkerton said. “At least temporarily, it is going to put a limit on how fast our economy can grow. Our key is to be adaptable.”