A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Report shows several reasons to be ‘upbeat’ about Kentucky’s 2015 economic prospects

By Carl Nathe
Special to KyForward

Delivering its most optimistic forecast for Kentucky’s economy in recent memory, the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky released its 43rd Kentucky Annual Economic Report today.

The report covers a variety of issues ranging from an economic forecast for Kentucky in 2015 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.

CBER AR2015 Cover, Final Flat.indd

As a result, Gatton College of Business and Economics’ professor and CBER director Christopher Bollinger 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 2015 Kentucky economic forecast, and he is “generally upbeat” about the state’s economic prospects this year due to several economic trends moving in a positive direction.

“The state lost 169,000 jobs from the peak of the last economic expansion in December 2007 to the darkest days of February 2010 when job losses finally bottomed out,” said Bollinger. “Kentucky’s unemployment rate was 10 percent or higher from April 2009 to December 2010 — a 21-month period,” he notes. Since then employment levels have improved and in December 2014 Kentucky’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 5.7 percent. Bollinger anticipates it will more or less hold steady and is forecasting an unemployment rate for Kentucky in 2015 below 6 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, but is not limited to, data and information about Kentucky’s educational progress relative to the U.S. and neighboring states, health disparities across Kentucky, how the income distribution has changed over the last three decades in Kentucky compared to the U.S., the level of entrepreneurial activity in Kentucky compared to other states, and detailed information about factors affecting state taxes and revenue — which affects, of course, the provision of public services from health care to public safety to education.

“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.

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.”

The report is one way 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.

Digital copies of the Center for Business and Economic Research 2015 Annual Economic Report can be obtained at the CBER website, by calling 859-257-2912 or through email to michael.childress@uky.edu.

Carl Nathe is the information officer for the University of Kentucky

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