Wichita's economy grew in 2008

While most of the nation's economy was slowing or shrinking in 2008, Wichita was reaching new heights.

The Wichita area's gross domestic product hit $28.5 billion last year, rising 5.9 percent from 2007, according to numbers released Thursday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That made Wichita the 73rd-fastest growing city among the nation's 366 metro areas.

GDP is the sum of all goods and services produced in Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey and Sumner counties.

When accounting for inflation, the Wichita area economy grew 2.7 percent in 2008.

The biggest contributor to the economic growth was the professional and business services sector — the area's lawyers, ad agencies, temp services and telemarketing firms. This group contributed about 40 percent of the year's growth.

About a quarter of last year's growth came from the oil and gas industry, which enjoyed record prices and record profits in the summer before prices crashed in the fall.

The numbers also reveal that the recession and aircraft strikes were starting to undercut the local economy. The economic output of the area's manufacturers, one of the sectors that drives the economy, contracted by nearly a half percent compared to 2007.

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