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Kansas City which crosses the state line and is located in both Kansas and Missouri, is best known for five things: jazz, barbecue, fountains and boulevards, and the Kansas City Royals baseball team that won the World Series in 2015.
The city has more than 200 fountains which arguably makes it second to Rome. And it has more boulevards than any city other than Paris.
Substantial redevelopment is revitalizing the inner city. The current construction boom, the largest in the history of downtown Kansas City, includes the AT&T Center, two bank towers, a major hotel and several new office towers.
The Kansas City metropolitan area now has an estimated 2.072 million people of whom 59.2% are white and 29.9% are African American. It is the 31st largest city in the United States and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 0.7% for the next five years. The metropolitan area had more than 1.6 million inhabitants in 1990 which reached more than 2.05 million by 2010. This is a total increase of 25.34%. The median age is 34.0 which is lower than the national average of 36.8. More than 50% of Kansas City residents are between the ages of 25 and 64 which helps create a large labor force.
Kansas City’s cost of living is 2.5% lower than the national average. A major component of the overall low cost of living is the affordability of housing in the area. In the first quarter of 2005, Kansas City was the second most affordable market among metropolitan areas with populations exceeding one million.
The median annual household income is $57,500. This is above the nationalaverage and is expected to stay ahead of national levels for the next few years.
Kansas City has 16 colleges and universities that grant Bachelor’s and advanced degrees as well as 8 community colleges.
As the following table shows, since 2009 the unemployment rate in Kansas City has been 1%-2% lower than the national average.
Unemployment Rate Kansas City vs. Nationwide, 2009-2014
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Kansas City Metro 7.4 7.0 6.4 5.5 5.2 4.5
US 9.9 9.3 8.5 7.9 6.7 5.6
In the third quarter of 2015, the Kansas City unemployment rate was 4.6% which is still lower than the 5.0% national average.
The area’s annual GDP has increased steadily from 2009 to 2014 by 17.3% at an average of 2-4% per year. In 2014 it grew by 3.7%. This compares to the national level where the GDP has increased between 3.10%-4.56% annually since 2009.
Once known for agriculture and manufacturing, the city has become a center for telecommunications, banking and finance. Hallmark Greeting Cards have their international headquarters in Kansas City. Other major employers include Sprint Nextel, Wal Mart and Ford Motor Company.
The city has a variety of transportation services, including river traffic, railroads, highways and air transportation. These are serviced by the nation’s second largest rail center, two airports, three interstate highways, 4 interstate linkages and 10 federal highways.
Kansas City is on the Forbes magazine list of Best Places for Business and Careers.
Real Estate Market
Housing prices in the US were at a high in 2006 and then plummeted until 2009 with slight additional decreases until 2011. Since then housing prices have begun rising but are still not quite back to the 2006 level.
Home ownership peaked nationwide at 69.2% at the end of 2004, when the housing market was in the midst of an epic boom. The 50-year average is 65.3%.
According to the US Census Bureau, home ownership fell to 63.7% in the third quarter of 2015. That is 0.7% lower than the same quarter in 2014 and is the lowest level in almost 20 years.
In Kansas City home ownership fell 5.5% from 69.7% in 2006 to 64.2% in 2013.
On the national level, along with the decrease in home ownership, there is a trend of more people renting. This is particularly true in Kansas City.
The number of Class B and Class C units in Kansas City has remained stable at 68,000 since 2000 out of a total of rental apartment units of 122,000 in Kansas City.
The vacancy rate nationwide for the first two quarters of 2015 was 4.3%. This is 3.7% below the peak of 8.0% at the end of 2009.
In Kansas City, vacancies decreased from 11.1% in 2010 (after the recession) to 4.3% at the end of 2013 and have stayed at this level. Meanwhile the metropolitan area registered a year-over-year increase in rental rates of 8.5%. Only San Francisco, San Jose and Denver were higher. After peaking in the early 2000s, multi-family housing was lowest in 2010. However, even as the economy slowed, Kansas City continued to see population growth.