Kentucky’s jobless rate dips to 4.9 percent in October 2015


Kentucky’s preliminary October 2015 unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent from a seasonally adjusted 5 percent in September 2015, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Kentucky’s jobless rate had not been that low since May 2001 when it was 4.9 percent.

The state rate in October 2015 was 0.7 percent below the 5.6 percent rate recorded in October 2014.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 5 percent in October 2015 compared to 5.1 percent in September 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 October 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,929,078, a decline of 1,553 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 1,661, and the number of unemployed decreased by 3,214.

“The Kentucky labor market has shown steady resilience for well over a year. When the unemployment rate hovers at around 5 percent — or lower as is the case this month — there is strong upward pressure on wages,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “During 2015 average weekly wages have increased by 4.8 percent, more than twice as fast as the national average.”

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 5,800 jobs in October 2015 from the month before, and jumped by 31,800 positions since October 2014.

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, eight of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors registered gains in employment, while two declined and one remained unchanged.

“Hiring has been brisk across all major sectors. Despite the faltering global market, job growth in Kentucky’s private sector has been strong,” said Shanker. “Key factors like low energy prices and near-zero inflation have helped Kentucky’s goods producing industries.”

Employment in Kentucky’s professional and business services sector jumped by 1,800 positions in October 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 900 jobs since last October. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.

The manufacturing sector gained 1,700 jobs in October 2015. Since October 2014, employment in manufacturing has increased by 7,500 jobs. Durable goods account for almost two-thirds of the manufacturing sector and grew by nearly 5 percent from a year ago with the addition of 7,400 jobs, whereas nondurable goods jobs added 100 jobs.

“Nationally, manufacturing employment has been flat at best. The story is quite different in Kentucky, especially in the durable goods sector,” said Shanker. “Hiring demand in manufacturing is quickly outstripping the availability of workers.”

The educational and health services sector rose by 1,200 positions in October 2015, and posted a robust gain of 6,400 jobs over the year.

“Health care jobs account for 15 percent of all nonfarm employment in Kentucky and were up by 700 for the month, and by 6,500 over the year,” said Shanker.

Employment in the financial activities sector grew by 1,200 in October 2015. The sector has increased by 3,700 positions over the last 12 months.

The leisure and hospitality sector was up by 800 positions in October 2015. Since October 2014, this sector has flourished with 6,200 more jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services.

Employment in the construction sector rose by 700 jobs in October 2015 from a month ago. Since October 2014, employment in construction has expanded by 4,500 positions resulting in a net gain of 6.2 percent.

“The previously hard-hit construction sector has rebounded with an increase in building construction and renovation activity,” said Shanker.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, rose by increased by 600 jobs from a month ago. This sector has expanded 1,000 jobs from a year ago.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 300 jobs in October 2015. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 380,000 jobs that account for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since October 2014, jobs in this sector have grown by 2,200 positions. Retail and wholesale trade together gained 200 jobs over the year, while transportation and warehousing gained 2,000 positions.

Employment in the mining and logging sector remained unchanged between September 2015 and October 2015. The industry has lost 1,800 jobs since last October.

The information sector had 200 fewer jobs in October 2015, but added 200 positions from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, fell by 2,300 jobs in October 2015, but has gained 1,000 positions since October 2014.

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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