A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Author of UK report on state’s economy ‘guardedly optimistic’ about prospects this year

Highlighting the importance of education to Kentucky’s economy in both good and bad economic times, the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) — the applied economic research branch of the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky — released its 44th Kentucky Annual Economic Report today.

The report is one of the many ways CBER fulfills its mandated mission as specified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes to examine various aspects of the Kentucky economy. CBER performs research projects for federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as for private-sector and nonprofit clients nationwide.

CBER AER2016 Front Cover.pdf

“The annual economic report contains a vast amount of information about the state’s economy that can be used by business leaders, policymakers and citizens to become better informed on economic issues,” said Gatton College Dean David Blackwell.

The report covers a variety of issues ranging from an economic forecast for Kentucky in 2016 to a comprehensive presentation of agricultural, community, economic, economic security, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, innovation, population, and public finance factors affecting Kentucky’s future economic prosperity.

As a result, Christopher Bollinger, Gatton Endowed Professor of Economics and CBER director, says, “The annual report will appeal to a broad spectrum of individuals — from business leaders to concerned citizens.”

Bollinger is the author of the report’s 2016 Kentucky economic forecast, and he is “guardedly optimistic” about Kentucky’s economic prospects this year due to the uncertainly surrounding several economic trends.

“It has been a long road to recovery,” Bollinger said. “The state lost 119,000 jobs from the peak of the last economic expansion in December 2007 to the darkest days of February 2010 when Kentucky’s unemployment rate peaked at nearly 11 percent,” he notes.

Since then employment levels have improved and in November 2015 Kentucky’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 4.9 percent. Bollinger anticipates it will hold steady and is forecasting an unemployment rate for Kentucky in 2016 below 5 percent.

In addition to the economic forecast, there are more than 100 trends, forces and factors affecting Kentucky’s economy presented in the report. This includes a recently completed analysis looking at the benefits of education for both the individual and the broader community and society; new research results on Kentucky’s educational position relative to other states as well as an assessment of our educational return on investment; an update of the center’s county-level assessment of broadband utilization; and a comprehensive look at state finances and an estimate of Kentucky’s structural deficit. In short, the report provides new and important information, data, and analysis on Kentucky’s economic situation.

The breadth of the annual report reflects the diversity of the collaborators who worked with CBER to produce it — including the Innovation Network for Entrepreneurial Thinking or iNET, which is organized and staffed by the College of Communication and Information, and the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, which is part of the Gatton College.

According to CBER Director Bollinger, “We have produced an annual report that paints a diverse and complicated picture of our state’s economy, its communities, and its citizens. Despite the constant change confronting us, there are timeless and enduring lessons. Pursuing educational excellence as well as economic innovation — since ideas, innovation, and intellectual capital form the foundation of the knowledge economy — is essential for Kentucky to improve its per capita income and achieve broad prosperity.”

Digital copies of the Center for Business and Economic Research 2016 Annual Economic Report can be obtained at the CBER website or by calling 859-257-2912 or sending an email to michael.childress@uky.edu.

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