Profile of Johnson County, Kansas

Johnson County was founded August 25, 1855, six years prior to Kansas becoming the 34th state to enter the Union. Johnson County is Kansas City’s metropolitan area’s growth engine. It lies at the heart of the nation while possessing all the ingredients necessary for economic growth and success. The County boasts nationally ranked schools, low crime rate, high quality neighborhoods, low cost of living, and a variety of cultural and entertainment amenities. Moreover, in Money magazine’s 2012 annual best places to live in America, Johnson County had not just one but two cities ranked in the top 100. Overland Park ranked 9th, and Olathe ranked 57th.

Johnson County accounts for more than half of the new businesses and job growth in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). On average over 6 million people visit Johnson County’s parks every year. Approximately 650,000 participate in the various 4,000 fee-supported sporting activities and recreational programs.

The area is comprised of gently undulating terrain ranging in elevation from 742 feet above sea level near its northern border along the Kansas River to 1,130 feet in the south central part of the County. The County and its 20 incorporated cities and seven townships continue to work together to ensure that the necessary infrastructure improvements are in place to accommodate further growth. Currently, 60% of the 477 square miles of land in the county has been developed, leaving about 40% as rural/unincorporated area.

Johnson County residents tend to be rather conservative. Of the 363,412 registered voters in the County during 2011, 47% were registered as Republicans, 23% as Democrats, and 30% were unaffiliated, reform, or libertarians.

Population

Johnson County makes up approximately 19% of the state’s population. Currently the County population for 2012 is estimated to be 561,934, and is projected to increase 5% by the year 2017. The current estimated population for the state of Kansas is 2,894,718 and expected to increase 3% by 2017. Over the last 5 years the County population has increased 7% compared to nearly 5% nationally.

Females slightly outnumber males (51% vs. 49%). The average age is 36, and by the year 2017 about one in four County residents are expected to be age 55 or over.

Housing

Reece & Nichols reported the median listing price of a 2,654 square foot home with four bedrooms, and three baths in Johnson County at $265,641. The Kansas Association of Realtors reported August home sales, for the state, rose 12% from August of 2011.

While the National median existing home sale price was $183,900 as of September 2012, up (11%) from last year, in Johnson County the average existing home sale price during September 2012 was $231,478 up (6%) from September of 2011. The County Appraisers Office reported new construction at about 1% which is down slightly from this same time last year. 

Income

The average earnings for the County thus far in 2012 is $51,600, 3% higher than the national average of $49,900. From June 2010 – June 2011, Johnson County's average wage increased 2% and ranked 209th out of 322 of the largest counties in the nation. Johnson County’s per capita personal income was $36,950 as of June 2012. The median household income in Johnson County as of June 2012 was $73,052. 

Recreation

Johnson County residents are afforded a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Within the Kansas City Metropolitan Area there are over 50 museums and historic sites, 65,000 acres of park land, and 65 golf courses, 28 of which are in Johnson County. There are also 14 Corps of Engineers regional lakes within a three-hour drive that provide abundant opportunities for boating, water skiing, fishing, and camping.

Education

The educational attainment of Johnson County’s population ranks among the most highly educated in the nation, making the local labor pool one of the best in the United States. Ninety-five percent of Johnson County residents age 25 years and older have earned at least a high school diploma, 52% have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the national average of 28%.

There are currently 29 four-year colleges and universities and 11 two-year colleges offering classes in the area. The county has 6 public school districts (K-12) totaling close to 92,000 students during the 2010-2011 school year. Collectively they have 43 nationally-recognized Blue Ribbon schools.

Employment

Over the last fifteen years Johnson County has been the state’s largest provider of employment. During the last 10 years there has been a net increase of approximately 2,800 private sector employers, which makes up 66% of the total business growth in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Employment opportunities are generally good in Johnson County. The economy has an average annual job growth rate of nearly 1%. Unemployment in Johnson County remains below the national average (8%), and stood at 5% as of August 2012.

Johnson County’s unsurpassed business environment and quality of life are the fuels that power one of the Midwest’s principal economic engines. Johnson County’s sustained population, development, and economic growth are testament to the fundamentally superior characteristics that make up the “Johnson County Advantage,” and helps explain why Johnson County’s ranks with some of the most dynamic local economies in the country.

Office of Institutional Research
Johnson County Community College
Compiled November 2012

Data Sources: US Census Bureau, BLS U.S. Department of Labor, County Economic Research Institute, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Johnson County Gov.org,  Economic Modeling Specialists (emsi), Money Magazine, CERI - JoCo Advantage, Reese Nichols, Kansas City Regional Assoc. of Realtors.