Kentucky unemployment rate remains steady in July

Published 5:09 pm Monday, August 28, 2023


Kentucky’s unemployment rate stayed steady in July, while workforce figures dipped slightly. That’s according to data released Thursday by the state’s Labor and Education Cabinet.

At 3.8%, the rate was identical to June’s and down .1% from the July 2022 rate. The state established a record-low rate in April at 3.7%. While post-COVID rates remain the lowest in Kentucky’s history, the state still trails the national average of 3.5% for July.

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Mike Clark, director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said in a statement that the state’s job market remains healthy, but the data suggests a slight slowdown.

“Fewer people reported being in the labor force and employed and more reported being unemployed,” he said. “Total nonfarm employment also fell slightly in July, suggesting that many employers are maintaining their employment levels but are not adding workers at the same pace as over the past year.”

The state’s workforce totaled 2,052,595 last month. That was down 1,990, less than one-tenth of a percentage point, from June. Kentuckians employed fell by 3,535 to 1,973,616.

But data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed some good news for Kentucky in certain workforce segments. Educational and health sector businesses added 4,200 jobs in Kentucky last month, and manufacturers reported an increase of 2,800 jobs from June. Those sectors have grown over the past year, with the educational and health workforce up 5% from last year, or 14,500 jobs. Manufacturing is up 3.5% to 9,000 in the past year.

Jobs in trades, transportation and utilities fell by 400 in July. However, the sector has seen an increase of 7,000 jobs for the past year.

The state saw its largest monthly decline in the public sector, as the number of government jobs dropped by 6,500 in July. Federal positions actually increased by 200, and state jobs remained unchanged. However, the losses were reported in local governments.

Business services saw its workforce shrink by 1,800 last month, although it, too, remains up from the previous year by 2,400 positions.

Where the state has seen the biggest drop over the past year has been in finance. The report noted a 900-job loss last month and 3,700 over the past year.

“The loss of jobs in the sector is concentrated in the finance and insurance subsector, which has been falling since mid-2022,” Clark said. “Employment in the real estate, rental and leasing subsector have improved and recently passed its pre-pandemic levels.”