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Kentucky unemployment drops to lowest level since Dec. 2002 as more people enter state’s workforce

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary December unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS). The unemployment rate for December 2017 was down from the revised 4.7 percent reported for November 2017.

The preliminary December 2017 jobless rate was down 0.4 percentage points from the 4.8 percent recorded for the state in December 2016.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for December 2017 was unchanged from the 4.1 percent reported for November 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based on estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. It is designed to measure trends in the number of people working. It includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

In December 2017, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,063,106, a increase of 1,214 individuals compared to the previous month. The number of people employed was up by 7,866, while the number unemployed decreased by 6,652.

In a separate federal survey of business establishments that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 400 jobs in December 2017 compared to November 2017. Kentucky added 21,200 jobs since December 2016, a 1.1 percent employment growth.

“Kentucky’s unemployment rate has reached its lowest level since December 2002,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Chris Bollinger, Ph.D. “The data continues to suggest that more people are entering Kentucky’s labor force and finding work. Although payroll employment, as reported by the establishment survey, was essentially unchanged in December, Kentucky ends the year with 21,200 more jobs than last year.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, six of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors experienced employment growth from the previous month. Four sectors declined from the previous month and one sector was unchanged.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector showed the largest gain with 1,000 more jobs from November 2017 to December 2017. This represents an increase of 0.4 percent. All three of the subsectors, professional, scientific and technical services; management of companies; and administrative and support and waste management gained positions over the month. Since December 2016, the sector has expanded by 5,600 jobs.

The state’s leisure and hospitality sector increased by 800 jobs in December 2017, and jumped by 5,500 positions since December 2016, a 2.9 percent growth rate. Within this sector, since November 2017, accommodation and food services increased by 1,000 jobs while arts, entertainment and recreation lost 200 jobs.

Manufacturing rose by 500 jobs from November 2017 to December 2017, a growth rate of 0.2 percent. Most of the increase occurred in non-durable goods manufacturing, which added 1,200 jobs in December 2017. Durable goods manufacturing lost 700 jobs from November 2017 to December 2017, but is up 1,600 jobs for the year. Since December 2016, the manufacturing sector has gained 2,100 jobs, or 0.8 percent.

Employment in the other services sector grew by 400 jobs in December 2017, and is up 4,100 from a year ago for a growth rate of 6.2 percent. Other services includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

The information services sector gained 200 jobs from November 2017 to December 2017. This sector has added 700 jobs or 3 percent since December 2016. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

The government sector added 100 jobs in December 2017. The federal government added 100 jobs and state government employment increased by 200 positions, while local government employment fell by 200 jobs. Since December 2016, government employment is down by 2,000 jobs, or 0.6 percent.

The financial activities sector was unchanged from November 2017 to December 2017, but has declined by 600 jobs since December 2016.

Trade, transportation and utilities employment decreased by 1,700 jobs from November 2017 to December 2017. This sector is up 700 positions from December 2016. Since November 2017, wholesale trade has increased by 400 jobs, and transportation, warehousing and utilities has gained 100 jobs, while retail trade fell by 2,200 jobs.

“All three subsectors comprising Kentucky’s trade, transportation and utilities showed growth earlier in the year, but have given up some of this growth in the last few months,” said Bollinger. “Retail and wholesale trade have both ended 2017 with fewer employees than in 2016.”

Construction employment decreased by 400 jobs from November 2017 to December 2017, a loss of 0.5 percent. For the year, construction employment was up by 4,400 jobs, or 5.8 percent.

Education and health services sectors lost 400 jobs in December 2017. Within the sector, employment in health care and social assistance decreased by 900 jobs, while educational services increased by 500 jobs. Since last December, the sector has grown by 1,400 positions or 0.5 percent.

Employment in mining and logging decreased by 100 jobs in December 2017. This sector has declined by 700 positions or 7 percent since last December.

Civilian labor force statistics include nonmilitary workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks.

Kentucky’s statewide unemployment rate and employment levels are seasonally adjusted. Employment statistics undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal events, such as weather changes, harvests, holidays and school openings and closings. Seasonal adjustments eliminate these influences and make it easier to observe statistical trends. However, because of the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Learn more about Kentucky’s labor market information at kcews.ky.gov.

From Education and Workforce Development Cabinet

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