Wages increase in Topeka as companies vie for employees, recent grads

Ty’Rese Mendez still had three months left of classes at Washburn University.

He was majoring in music education and had done his student teaching at 450 Shawnee Heights Unified School District.

Mendez put in an application with the district for full-time employment after graduation. He quickly received an offer.

“I had a lot of opportunities just because teachers are quitting all over the place,” he said.

This summer, Mendez is teaching students in kindergarten through fifth grade at a summer band and orchestra camp for Shawnee Heights.

“COVID really opened everyone’s eyes to what they really want to do,” he said. “It sucks that there’s a bunch of teachers that are realizing they don’t want to teach, but it just goes to show us that we need to focus on education.”

More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the economy to a near standstill, the job market is at its hottest peak.

And job seekers are finding plenty of employment opportunities in Topeka and across Kansas.

Wages in Topeka are increasing to attract employees

Freddy Mawyin, senior economic advisor at the Greater Topeka Partnership, talks about the job market for Shawnee County and offers insights for job seekers.

Freddy Mawyin, Greater Topeka Partnership’s senior economic advisor, said overall wages are increasing in every industry.

“In fact, just in the last quarter, wages have increased by 3.5% in Shawnee County,” Mawyin said.

That gives leverage to the job seeker.

“Before, we usually see these employers mandating compensation and benefits,” Mawyn said. “Right now, it’s kind of flipped to where the employee has a lot more leverage in terms of those things.”

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