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Clay County Growth Statistics: Just Wow!

September 2017

Clay County has a unique level of specialization in manufacturing and arts, entertainment and recreation – the latter due largely to the casinos. These and other surprises are available in this PDF.

A recent data analysis revealed several dramatic trends for Clay County on everything from population to education and business development.

Compiled from U.S. Census Bureau data by Jeff Pinkerton of MetroInsight, the report included outlines of an explosion of new jobs, including ones that are focused on some of the Greater Kansas City’s hottest markets.

“The industries that Clay County is doing well in are really good areas,” Pinkerton said. “They are high-paying jobs in health care and manufacturing, which is really important because those are growing well in this region.”

Clay County also sidestepped some areas that haven’t fared as well in Greater Kansas City, including a glut of information technology specialists that came from the slowdown by Sprint. “Clay County avoided problem areas like that,” Pinkerton added. “They’ve avoided the wrong industries, and they’re in the ones that look really good.”

Pinkerton presented the information as part of strategic planning for the Clay County Economic Development Council. All data was from the U.S. Census Bureau, with the majority involving the most recent figures available except where long-range perspectives were used.

Given its location, Clay County growth is not surprising, but the rates and trends are significant, Pinkerton said.

Employment – jobs located in Clay County – has exploded in recent years. Beginning in 2013, Clay County grew employment at a record level, moving from just under 90,000 to more than 100,000 jobs.

In the 12 months before third quarter 2016, Clay County was the fastest growing county in the Kansas City metro area for employment, with 3,433 new jobs. That topped even perennial leaders like Jackson County, Mo. and Johnson County, Ks.

The most significant topic may involve the industries in which Clay County’s new jobs are located. From 1996 to 2016, Clay County job growth was led by manufacturing and health care. Professional, scientific and technical services were next. Notably, Clay County did not see much growth in information technology, which has not fared as well in Greater Kansas City.

Another surprise is Clay County’s specialization in arts, entertainment and recreation, thanks largely to the two major casinos. Along with logistics and shipping development, transportation and warehousing are the area’s top industries.

Clay County has experienced steady population growth and currently has 239,085 residents. The county’s growth rate since 2006 has exceeded Greater Kansas City’s by almost double, 14.2 percent compared to 8.1 percent.

Clay County residents can also look for good wages. Median household income is above the national average and is gaining ground. In 2010, the median income for Clay County was $59,656 compared to the national average of $54,398. In 2015, Clay County had jumped to $65,090 compared to the nation at $55,775.

Those dollars also go further in Clay County, especially in housing. Clay County’s median home value in 2010 was $150,000 compared to national figures of $179,900. That gap favored Clay County even more in 2015 with the county median at $159,300 compared to $194,500 for the nation.

Educational attainment in Clay County ranks higher in almost every category, from high school to bachelor’s degrees. Only in the number of graduate degrees did the local area lag slightly.

Pinkerton concluded by noting a number of areas that should be monitored, including how the global economy is changing and how that could affect the region, whether jobs being added are likely to continue for the future and what types of training and education are needed to ensure a strong future workforce.

A copy of the full report is available in this PDF.

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