Kentucky’s jobless rate drops to 5.3 percent


Staff Report



FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate for April 2016 dropped to 5.3 percent from a revised 5.6 percent in March 2016, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The preliminary April 2016 jobless rate was identical to the rate recorded for the state in April 2015.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for April 2016 was 5 percent, 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 April 2016, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,982,338, an increase of 268 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 6,405, and the number of unemployed decreased by 6,137.

“After three months of lackluster performance the labor force numbers are back on track. The low unemployment rate is not the only bright spot,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “The picture has brightened further with an uptick in labor force participation rates, and a robust increase in year-over-year employment.”

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 decreased by 4,000 jobs in April 2016 from the month before but rose by 34,900 positions since April 2015.

“Unemployment rate statistics and the jobs data come from two independent surveys. Over the long run they tell the same story,” said Shanker. “But on a month-to-month basis the statistics sometimes deviate just because of the timing of the surveys. When that happens it is usually more appropriate to look at the over-the-year change.”

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 remained the same.

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, gained 1,900 jobs in April 2016. The sector posted a drop of 3,800 jobs compared to April 2015.

“The growth in state government is primarily from state government educational services,” said Shanker. “Around one-sixth of Kentucky’s nonfarm employment is in government, half of these jobs are in local government, around 30 percent in state government, and the rest in federal.”

The state’s professional and business services grew by 1,500 positions in April 2016 from a month ago. Year-over-year, there was a substantial gain of 8,800 jobs. 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 educational and health services sector added by 900 positions in April 2016, and there was a robust gain of 10,700 jobs or more than 4 percent from a year ago.

“Health care jobs account for 13 percent of all nonfarm employment in Kentucky and were up by 700 positions over the month, while educational services increased by 200 positions,” Shanker said.

The financial activities sector expanded by 500 jobs in April 2016 from a month ago. The sector has added 2,300 jobs since last April.

The information sector remained unchanged in April 2016. This segment has declined by 700 positions from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Employment in the mining and logging sector decreased by 200 positions in April 2016 from a month ago. The industry has declined by 2,700 positions from a year ago.

The leisure and hospitality sector fell by 1,000 jobs in April 2016 from a month ago. Since April last year, the sector has added 2,700 jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, dropped by 1,000 positions in April 2016 from a month ago. This sector has decreased by 1,000 jobs from a year ago.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector contracted by 1,100 jobs in April 2016 compared to the previous month. Since April 2015, employment in manufacturing has increased by 6,600 or nearly 3 percent. Over the year, the durable goods subsector added 8,700 jobs, while nondurable goods industries lost 2,100 jobs.

“In spite of the ‘correction’ in April—which is economist-speak for a temporary decline—employment in durable goods industries, especially machinery and motor vehicle manufacturing, is on an upswing,” said Shanker.

The construction sector fell by 2,300 jobs in April 2016 from a month ago. Since April 2015, construction jobs have been down by 800 positions.

Kentucky’s trade, transportation, and utilities sector contracted by 3,200 jobs in April 2016 from a month ago. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 400,000 jobs accounting for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since April 2015, this sector has expanded substantially with a gain of 12,900 jobs. Retail trade lost 2,200 jobs over the previous month, but expanded by 9,800 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.

Staff Report

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