Kentucky’s jobless rate at 5.2 percent in July 2015


Kentucky’s preliminary July unemployment rate rose slightly to a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent from a revised 5.1 percent in June 2015, and remained below the national rate, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The state rate in July 2015 was 1 percentage point below the 6.2 percent rate recorded in July 2014.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained at 5.3 percent from June 2015 to July 2015, 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 rather than to count the actual number of people working. It includes jobs in agriculture and those classified as self-employed.

In July 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,959,681, a decline of 20,080 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was down by 21,382, and the number of unemployed increased by 1,302.

“The labor market is doing well, as is apparent from the unemployment rate of 5.2 percent. Kentucky’s unemployment rate has now been below the national average for a full year,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “You have to go back 20 years to mid-1995 to find a similar comparison between the U.S. and Kentucky economies.”

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 fell by 4,000 jobs in July 2015 from the month before, but jumped by 29,500 positions since July 2014.

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, four of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors registered gains in employment, while six declined and one stayed the same from the previous month.

“This is one of those occasions when the jobs data in the survey seems to be at odds with the steady growth we have had over the past year. The drop of 4,000 jobs in July seems to be due to two or three statistical quirks in the modeling of the survey data. Unfortunately, each of the statistical deviations occurred at the same time resulting in an overall drop in the jobs data,” said Shanker.

Employment in the government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, rose by 2,400 jobs in July 2015, and gained 2,600 positions since July 2014.

The financial activities sector had 1,000 more jobs in July 2015. The sector has expanded by 4,300 positions over the last 12 months.

“The expansion continues to be in the area of finance and insurance, particularly health insurance,” said Shanker.

The leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 700 positions in July 2015. Since July 2014, this sector has grown by 3,400 jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services.

The information sector increased by 500 jobs in July 2015, but was unchanged from July 2014. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, was flat from a month ago. This sector has risen by 500 jobs from a year ago.

Mining and logging sector jobs declined by 100 in July 2015. The industry has lost 1,600 jobs since last July.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector dropped by 400 positions in July 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 7,600 since last July. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.

Employment in the construction sector fell by 800 in July 2015 from a month ago. Since July 2014, employment in construction has expanded by 2,900 positions.

The state’s manufacturing sector lost 1,200 jobs in July 2015. Since July 2014, employment in manufacturing has increased by 500 jobs. Durable goods account for almost two-thirds of the manufacturing sector and grew by 1.6 percent from a year ago, whereas nondurable goods jobs declined by 2.2 percent.

The state’s trade, transportation and utilities sector dropped by 2,500 jobs in July 2015. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with nearly 380,000 jobs that account for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since July 2014, jobs this sector have expanded by 1,000 positions. Retail and wholesale trade together lost 300 jobs over the year, while transportation and warehousing expanded by 1,300 positions.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sector declined by 3,600 positions in July 2015, but posted a robust gain of 8,300 jobs over the year.

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.

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