Kentucky’s jobless rate steady at 5.2 percent


Kentucky’s preliminary August unemployment rate remained at 5.2 percent from a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent in July 2015, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The state rate in August 2015 was 0.8 percent below the 6 percent rate recorded in August 2014.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell from 5.3 percent in July 2015 to 5.1 percent in August 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 August 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,941,531, a decline of 18,523 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was down by 16,211, and the number of unemployed decreased by 2,312.

“The Kentucky labor market is the best it has been in more than a decade,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “The unemployment rate has been hovering at around 5 percent for most of the year, and that is as close to full employment as we can go without triggering higher inflation.”

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 rose by 3,600 jobs in August 2015 from the month before, and jumped by 34,100 positions since August 2014.

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 registered gains in employment, while five declined.

“The Kentucky job market hasn’t slowed in spite of the turmoil in the global financial markets. Domestic demand has been strong enough to sustain job growth, though if international weakness persists there could be a slowdown in some areas of manufacturing,” said Shanker. “Job growth remains strong and broad-based.”

Employment in Kentucky’s manufacturing sector gained 3,300 jobs in August 2015. Since August 2014, employment in manufacturing has increased by 4,400 jobs. Durable goods account for almost two-thirds of the manufacturing sector and grew by 4.4 percent from a year ago with the addition of 6,700 jobs, whereas nondurable goods jobs declined by 2.7 percent.

“The manufacturing sector stumbled in July, but there has been a strong, reassuring uptick in August,” said Shanker. “Domestic demand for all goods has been fuelled by low prices at the pump, which has given a bump to discretionary spending. The boost is not only in manufacturing, but in retail trade and restaurants.”

The educational and health services sector increased by 1,700 positions in August 2015, and posted a robust gain of 10,400 jobs over the year.

“The health care and social assistance subsector accounts for one out of every eight jobs in Kentucky. This sub-sector added 1,400 positions during the month, but expanded by 9,100 from a year ago. Aging baby boomers and expanded Medicaid continue to drive up employment in health services,” said Shanker.

The leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 1,700 positions in August 2015. Since August 2014, this sector has grown by 5,600 jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services.

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, rose by 1,500 jobs in August 2015, and gained 4,200 positions since August 2014.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 800 jobs in August 2015. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with nearly 380,000 jobs that account for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since August 2014, jobs in this sector have expanded by 1,700 positions. Retail and wholesale trade together gained 300 jobs over the year, while transportation and warehousing expanded by 1,400 positions.

The information sector increased by 400 jobs in August 2015, and rose by 300 positions from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Mining and logging sector jobs declined by 100 in August 2015. The industry has lost 1,800 jobs since last August.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, fell by 200 jobs from a month ago. This sector has risen by 200 jobs from a year ago.

Employment in the construction sector dropped by 300 in August 2015 from a month ago. Since August 2014, employment in construction has expanded by 2,400 positions.

The financial activities sector lost 500 jobs in August 2015. The sector has added 3,600 positions over the last 12 months.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector declined by 4,700 positions in August 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 3,100 since last August. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.

“Administrative support services dropped substantially in August as an improving economy moved workers from the ranks of temp services into permanent jobs in manufacturing,” Shanker said.

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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