Report: KC Startups Created More Jobs in 2021 Than in Any of the Past 5 Years

Report: KC Startups Created More Jobs in 2021 Than in Any of the Past 5 Years

Kansas City startups created more than 19,000 jobs in 2021, once again creating more jobs than in any of the previous five years. And KC’s new tech startups demonstrated their economic impact last year, increasing the number of jobs they created by 92% over 2020.

These are two core findings of the latest “We Create Jobs” report from KCSourceLink, which reports on the jobs created and wages paid by Kansas City’s new and young firms and tech startups.

This year’s report reveals that, across the metro area, first-time employers with fewer than 20 employees created 19,849 jobs in 2021. From 2017-21, these new startups created an average of 16,413 new jobs each year. Accounting for the employees these startups hired, as well as job losses, in 2017 and in each succeeding year through 2021, first-time employers in Kansas City created 86,761 jobs in 2021, accounting for 63% of all new jobs in the Kansas City metro.


“By continuing to improve access to support and resources, our entrepreneurs can build stronger businesses and a stronger economy,” says Michael Carmona, network builder for KCSourceLink and senior director of regional ecosystem development at the UMKC Innovation Center. “The pandemic challenged all of us, but we saw many of our business owners, founders and entrepreneurship champions step up to the challenge and find new opportunities and new innovations to move our communities forward. This report reveals the true impact our entrepreneurs have for our communities and our collective future.”

The latest data from “We Create Jobs” also underscores other highlights.

  • The average wage for new jobs in the tech sector is 42% higher than the average wage of all new jobs.

  • New tech sector startups created 1,879 jobs in 2021 and averaged 1,152 new jobs from 2017-21. KC tech startups created 8,387 jobs over the past five years.

  • Data reveals there were 8,197 startups firms in the KC area in 2021, up from 6,327 in 2020.

For the first time since tracking this data began in 2016, “We Create Jobs” also includes a heat map of where startups are created in the nine-county region of the KC metro, showing that startups create jobs on both sides of the state line and in every county in our region.

The latest “We Create Jobs” report is available for download here. Updates include:

  • job contributions by Kansas City startups through 2021
  • survival rate of KC startups vs. national firms 
  • comparison of startup wages to the living wage
  • job creation by KC startups and tech startups from 2017-2021
  • number of KC startups by industry
  • number of KC tech startups by segment
  • average startup density by industry in Kansas City
  • all KC startup average wage, KC tech startup wages, KC non-tech startup average wage, all establishments average wage, living wage and poverty wage

“We Create Jobs” quantifies the impact of new and young firms to the Kansas City area economy, and “Show Me Jobs,” from KCSourceLink sister organization MOSourceLink, tracks jobs across Missouri. Using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for Kansas City, KCSourceLink used a statistical analysis to calculate the number of jobs from first-time employers by looking at employers who paid for unemployment insurance for the first time. KCSourceLink further sorted that number to include only those employers with 20 or fewer employees.

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