One of KC Rising’s key strategies for regional prosperity is focusing on growth in the industries where we already excel — those that bring new money into our region by selling products and services to other parts of the nation and the world. The “Design + Construct” cluster brings together related industries that are ripe with opportunity for the region: architecture, engineering and construction.
We know anecdotally that engineering is important to the regional economy, as Kansas City is the headquarters for several large multinational engineering firms — Black and Veatch, Burns and McDonnell, and HNTB to name a few. But does the data support this assumption? According to a recent analysis conducted for KC Rising by the Mid-America Regional Council, the answer is a resounding yes.
One way to measure a region’s expertise and success in a particular industry is by its location quotient. The location quotient formula calculates the percentage of total employment that can be attributed to jobs in the selected industry, both for the region and the nation. We then divide the regional percentage by the national one. If our employment in that industry is right in line with the nation, the answer should be “1.” A location quotient greater than 1 indicates specialization in that industry, while a figure less than 1 means we lag behind the national average.
For engineering, the region’s 14,433 jobs translate into a location quotient of 1.97 — nearly double the percentage of jobs seen for the nation as a whole. Architectural services also have a high location quotient, at 1.51. The Kansas City region ranks fourth highest among its 30 peer metros in the location quotient for architecture and engineering combined.
Peer Metro Specialization in Architectural and Engineering Services
Another reason these industries are so important to the regional economy is that they provide high-paying jobs. The average annual wage for architecture and engineering is $93,363, compared to an overall average annual wage of $50,507 for all jobs in the metro. Kansas City ranks fifth among its peer metros by this measure.
Growth in architecture and engineering jobs is strong. In the last 10 years, architecture and engineering services grew by 23.2 percent in the Kansas City metro, compared to 5.7 percent for our peer metros and only 3 percent for the U.S. The industry is well positioned to have a lasting positive impact on our regional economy.