Kentucky’s jobless rate unchanged

Staff report

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate for February 2016 stayed at 5.8 percent from a revised 5.8 percent in January 2016, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The preliminary February 2016 jobless rate was 0.5 percentage points above the 5.3 percent rate recorded for the state in February 2015.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for February 2016 held at 4.9 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 February 2016, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,975,329, an increase of 11,942 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 11,814, and the number of unemployed increased by 128.

“Unemployment rates have increased in both January and February compared to a year ago,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “The jump in the unemployment rate is almost paradoxical. As the job market improves, more and more people start entering the labor market in search of employment. The new entrants, however, may not have the skills necessary to land a job. During this period of job search, they are unemployed and that drives up the unemployment rate.”

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 400 jobs in February 2016 from the month before and rose by 28,800 positions since February 2015.

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 five declined and two remained the same.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sector posted a gain of 3,800 positions in February 2016, and an overall increase of 10,900 jobs or more than 4 percent from a year ago. Health care jobs, which account for nearly 90 percent of employment in this sector, expanded by 3,000 positions over the year.

“Healthcare jobs have grown steadily for well over a year in response to both demographics which results from an aging population, and an increase in federal spending on healthcare,” said Shanker.

The construction sector jumped by 2,200 jobs in February 2016 from a month ago. Since February 2015, construction jobs have expanded by 2,700 positions.

“Residential construction has been doing well, but the big boost to employment has come from heavy and civil engineering construction which includes highways and bridges,” said Shanker.

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector grew by 1,600 jobs in February 2016 from a month ago. Since February last year, the sector has added 3,200 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, was up by 300 positions in February 2016 from a month ago. This sector decreased by 400 jobs from a year ago.

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector remained flat in February 2016 from a month ago, but expanded substantially with the gain of 12,100 jobs from a year ago. This is the largest sector in Kentucky accounting for one-fifth of all nonfarm jobs. Retail trade added 1,900 jobs over the previous month, but both wholesale trade and transportation and warehousing declined in employment.

The information sector did not add any jobs in February 2016. This segment has declined by 1,100 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 financial activities sector posted a decline of 300 jobs in February 2016. The sector has expanded by 2.4 percent during the last 12-months with the addition of 2,200 jobs.

Employment in the mining and logging sector decreased by 600 positions in February 2016 from a month ago. The industry has declined by 3,200 positions or nearly 21 percent from a year ago.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector lost 900 jobs in February 2016 compared to the previous month. Since February 2015, employment in manufacturing has increased by 4,100. The month-to-month decline was in the durable goods subsector, down 1,900, while nondurable goods industries added 1,000 jobs.

“The sharp monthly swing in manufacturing is not a worrying factor,” said Shanker. “Employment tends to accelerate during hiring cycles, and then dampen. Over the year data shows steady growth in both durable and nondurable goods employment.”

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, decreased by 1,300 jobs in February 2016. The sector posted a drop of 5,000 jobs compared to February 2015.

Kentucky’s professional and business services lost 4,400 positions in February 2016 from a month ago. Year-over-year, there was a substantial gain of 3,300 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.

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.

Learn more about the Office of Employment and Training at

Staff report

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