LAWRENCE — The 2021 Kansas Economic Policy Conference, held annually and hosted by the Institute for Policy & Social Research, will take place Oct. 21 at the University of Kansas. This year, the conference will address “The COVID Recovery in Kansas: A Work in Progress.”
Although GDP growth has recovered compared to the sharp downturn in 2020, the labor market in Kansas and the United States continues to pose challenges for economic growth. In particular, mothers left the labor force in large numbers in order to care for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many women have not returned to work, and low-wage jobs remain unfilled. More information about the course of the pandemic in Kansas is available on the Institute for Policy & Social Research website.
The event will build on conversations held at the 2020 Kansas Economic Policy Conference, in which speakers addressed the far-reaching effects of the pandemic. They also noted that in many cases, including the availability of child care and access to high-quality broadband, the pandemic did not create new issues but instead made more people aware of existing problems.
“The federal government has provided billions of dollars to state and local governments in Kansas. We hope that this year’s conference provides a lively discussion of how we can spend federal money in the state to create a resilient Kansas economy,” said Donna Ginther, IPSR director and Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Economics.
Ginther will give a morning keynote on the “State of the Kansas State Economy and Economic Recovery.” The conference will then turn to “How Local Governments are Moving Forward,” featuring a conversation with Trey Cocking, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities; Janet McRae, economic development director of Miami County; and Maury Thompson, deputy county manager of Johnson County.
Panelists will also discuss “Building a Resilient Kansas – Childcare, Housing, and Broadband,” with Kelly Davydov, executive director of Child Care Aware of Kansas; Shannon Oury, executive director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority; and Stanley Adams of the Office of Broadband Development in the Kansas Department of Commerce. Deb Miller, director of the KU Public Management Center, and Jim McLean, political correspondent with Kansas News Service, will moderate these conversations.
After lunch, state policymakers will have an opportunity to share their comments on Policy to Advance Recovery and Resilience. The panel will include:
- State Sen. Dinah Sykes, minority leader, District 21, Lenexa
- State Sen. Brenda Dietrich, District 20, Topeka
- State Rep. Chris Croft, House District 8, Overland Park
- State Rep. Susan Concannon, House District 107, Beloit
Ginther will offer remarks at the end of the conference.
One challenge of this year’s conference is that, while the economic recovery from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is in progress, the pandemic is still ongoing in the U.S. and throughout the world. In-person attendees will be required to comply with KU policies on masking and social distancing.
Attendees can join the conference in person or view the conference through livestream. Registration for the conference is required and is offered at no cost to attendees. A grant from the Economic Development Administration with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act University Supplemental Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Award funding supports this event. View the full program and register to attend on the conference website. Attendees can follow the conference on Twitter using #KEPC2021.
Image: COVID-19 effect on Kansas unemployment. Credit: KU Institute for Policy & Social Research.