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Recreational spending slowdown could mean less happy Kansans, says economist

An economist with the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute says that Kansas is spending less than the rest of the country recreationally.

“We took that spending activity and we compared it to the nation at large,” said Austin. “What we’ve noticed is that there seems to be a split in happiness between Kansas and other Americans that started since the summer of 2015. Coincidentally, and this may not prove causation, but it’s most certainly heavily associated, that’s when policymakers approved the largest sales tax increase in the state history.”

For the last quarter in 2018, Kansas’s private sector was the 42nd fastest growing in the country.

“When we talk about the financial environment, unfortunately, it seems to go hand in hand with the constant creep of tax increases that we’ve had, with the slowdown in recreational spending,” Austin said.

Let’s be clear, on a dollar for dollar basis, spending is still trending up, it’s just below the rest of the country.

“At the end of 2018, Americans in other states are spending 26% more than what they did in 2009,” said Austin. “Kansans are only spending 17% more.”

The source for the numbers is the Bureau of Economic Analysis numbers in the Retail Trade, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Accommodation and Food Services sectors between 2009 and 2018.


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