Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Releases May 2023 Unemployment Report

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 15, 2023) — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary May 2023 unemployment rate was 3.8%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet (KELC).

The preliminary May 2023 jobless rate was up 0.1 percentage points from April 2023 and was unchanged from one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for May 2023 was 3.7%, which was up 0.3 percentage points from April 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based upon estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working and includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,052,309 in May 2023, an increase of 5,979 individuals from April 2023. The number of people employed in May rose by 5,205 to 1,975,174 while the number unemployed increased by 774 to 77,135.

“While Kentucky’s unemployment rate increased from the historic low set in April, the change was relatively small,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “The higher unemployment rate occurred as more people entered the labor force in May. While most appear to be finding work quickly, the number of people unemployed increased at a somewhat faster rate than the number employed.”

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 2,800 jobs in May 2023 compared to April 2023. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 51,800 jobs or 2.7% compared to May 2022.

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for six of Kentucky’s major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in May 2023, decreased for four, and was unchanged for one.

The educational and health services sector gained 2,400 positions in May 2023. Employment in the health care and social assistance subsector added 2,100 jobs in May while the educational services subsector rose by 300 jobs. Since last May, this sector has grown by 11,300 jobs or 3.9%.

The government sector grew by 1,800 jobs from April 2023 to May 2023. Employment increased by 400 in federal government; 900 jobs in state government; and 500 jobs in local government. Employment in the total government sector rose by 8,400 positions or 2.8% compared to May 2022.

Employment in Kentucky’s manufacturing sector rose by 1,700 jobs from April 2023 to May 2023. Durable goods manufacturing employment was up 1,400 jobs in May. Non-durable goods manufacturers also added 300 jobs. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was up 9,600 positions or 3.8% since May 2022.

“Strong demand for the goods produced in Kentucky have allowed the Commonwealth’s manufacturers to add workers to their payrolls faster than they have nationally,” said Clark.

The other services sector added 700 jobs in May 2023 and had 3,100 more positions compared to May 2022. This sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Construction employment increased by 600 jobs in May 2023 or 0.7% from April, and was up 4,300 positions or 5.3% from one year ago.

Employment in the information services sector increased by 100 jobs in May. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. The number of jobs in this sector grew by 1,100 or 5.2% from one year ago.

The number of jobs in the state’s mining and logging sector was unchanged from April. This sector had 500 more jobs compared to May 2022.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector declined by 200 jobs or 0.1% in May 2023. Employment increased by 1,600 jobs in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector. These gains were offset by a loss of 1,800 jobs in the administrative, support and waste management subsector. Employment in the management of companies subsector was unchanged from April to May. The sector has increased by 2,100 jobs or 0.9% since May 2022.

Employment in the financial activities sector fell 500 jobs from April 2023 to May 2023. Employment was down by 500 jobs in the finance and insurance subsector from April to May but was unchanged in the real estate, rental and leasing subsector. The sector decreased by 2,500 positions compared to last May.

Kentucky’s trade, transportation and utilities sector decreased by 1,300 jobs from April to May and was up 9,200 jobs or 2.2% compared to a year ago. Employment fell by 500 jobs in the wholesale trade subsector; 100 jobs in the retail trade subsector; and 700 jobs in the transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector.

The leisure and hospitality sector lost 2,500 positions from April 2023 to May 2023. This represents a decline of 1.3%. This sector posted 4,700 more jobs in May than one year ago. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector fell by 700 jobs from April to May. The accommodations and food services subsector had 1,800 fewer jobs in May than April.

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, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit

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