In announcing his decision not to run again, outgoing Unified Government CEO/mayor Joe Reardon touted job growth as a significant accomplishment.
"The Bureau of Labor Statistics, earlier this week, ranked us 27th in the country in the percentage of new jobs created year over year, higher than any other county in the region," he said.
A look at those figures, though, suggests a more complicated -- and interesting -- reality.
The BLS figures show jobs in Wyandotte County grew 3.6% between June 2011 and June 2012. Out of 329 counties studied nationwide, Wyco did indeed tie for 27th in percentage job growth, more than Johnson County's 3.4% or Jackson County's 1% growth.
But the new jobs did not translate into higher wages in Wyandotte County, as one might expect from a growing demand for workers. In fact, the BLS figures show average weekly wages in Wyco actually dropped in the same period, by 1.4%.
That was good for the 27th worst wage performance out of 329 counties across America.
It appears Wyandotte County is adding jobs, but most of them are low-paying, low-demand, non-skilled, entry-level positions. Weekly wages grew 2% in Joco and 3.1% in Jackson County over the same period.
Put another way: Jackson County is adding fewer jobs, but they pay better.
Wyandotte County's fortunes could change as jobs as Cerner come on line (although there is no guarantee those jobs will go to Wyandotte Countians, or even Kansans.) But the next UG mayor's challenge will appear to be adding quality jobs, not just quantity.
And that, by the way, is essentially the challenge for the American economy as a whole.