PITTSBURG, Kan. — It may only be October, but many business owners are already in the planning phase for next year. And an event today (Tuesday) at Pittsburg State helped.

To succeed in business, business owners and operators have to plan for the new year, which is why Daren Roberts chose to attend the annual Pittsburg Economic Outlook Conference held on the PSU campus.

“I come to the event to just learn more about the labor statistics, the unemployment, where we rank throughout the state of Kansas, to look at just the different trends that we’re seeing across and some of the little bit of roadblocks that are companies similar to us face,” said Daren Roberts, Plant Manager, Kendall Packaging.

Wichita State University has been hosting the Kansas Economic Outlook Conference here in Pittsburg since 2012.

Dr. Jeremy Hill was the first to speak and says it’s time for business owners to share the wealth with current and future employees if they want the Kansas economy to continue to grow in 2024.

“So the only way to attract more labor, and this is a big story for us, is to raise wages, wages have to increase dramatically which sounds scary to a lot of firms, but I say that their productivity is increasing and profits have been up, but there’s a lot of room to actually get those wages at the right level,” said Dr. Jeremy Hill, Dir., Center For Economic Development & Business Research, W.S.U.

Dr. Michael Davidsson, a PSU economics professor, says the manufacturing industry in Pittsburg in particular, and Southeast Kansas as a whole should continue to grow into the new year.

“We had unprecedented growth in the number of jobs in 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and also during the first quarter of 2023, so the growth is accelerating,” said Dr. Michael Davidsson, PSU Economics Professor.

But the outlook for farmers is not so optimistic according to Kansas State University Agricultural Economics Department Head Dr. Allen Featherstone.

“While fertilizer prices have decreased some, other costs have increased, interest rates have also increased, and so looking at that, we may end up seeing income go statewide from about 200 thousand dollars per farm to about $70,000 per farm,” said Dr. Allen Featherstone, Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University.

On the positive side, he believes the livestock industry should do just the opposite.