FILE - Topeka Kansas

Downtown Topeka storefronts

(The Center Square) – Midwest and Plains' states' economic numbers continue to improve, while Kansas' figures are a bit more dismal.

"In almost every economic metric, Kansans’ economic prospects are worse than last July as the economy was 'reopening,'" Michael Austin, director of Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at Kansas Policy Institute, told The Center Square. "Last August, about 12% of Kansas small businesses were closed. By the end of last month, small business activity plummeted to a closure rate of 33%. Nothing predicts strong job growth and overall economic growth than the performance of small firms and startups. Yet, state officials seem determined to undermine this engine of economic opportunity."

Donna Ginther, director of the Institute for Policy and Social Research at The University of Kansas, said that 47% of leisure and hospitality businesses in Kansas have closed since January 2020. This is a large source of jobs for lower-skilled individuals. Kansas is losing more high- and middle-wage jobs than the U.S. average, reflecting the shrinking of state and local employment.

According to KCTV, business leaders surveyed for the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions reported growth similar to pre-pandemic conditions and expressed concern at increasing wholesale inflation pressure. Many also worried about the continuing bottleneck and delays in the supply chain.

Austin said he is more concerned about the amount of government spending.

"Kansas government intervention has created a vicious cycle of anemic progress and more interventions," Austin said. "The Kansas lockdown, school closures, and business restrictions adversely impacted low-wage jobs. That has made an enormous demand on the state’s unemployment system to the point unemployed Kansans must wait two to three weeks on average to get a callback."

The state's economy will certainly look different in a post-COVID-19 society.

"Kansas won’t reach its economic potential, let alone recover if it doesn’t prioritize small business activity over economic planning," Austin said.