Kentucky’s jobless rate drops to 5 percent in September 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 15, 2015) — Kentucky’s preliminary September 2015 unemployment rate fell to 5 percent from a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent in August 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 in more than 14 years.

The state rate in September 2015 was 0.8 percent below the 5.8 percent rate recorded in September 2014.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained at 5.1 percent from August 2015 to 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 September 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,930,291, a decline of 11,369 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was down by 7,838, and the number of unemployed decreased by 3,531.

“The labor market has improved substantially with the unemployment rate falling to 5 percent for the first time since June 2001. Kentucky has hit its stride by outperforming the U.S. average for 13 of the last 14 months,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “Kentucky’s labor force is shrinking though, as our population has a larger proportion of retirement-age individuals than the U.S. 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 remained unchanged in September 2015 from the month before, but increased by 32,700 positions since September 2014.

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 unchanged.

“The job report, with no increase from the previous month, reflects the soft growth in the U.S. economy,” said Shanker. “The global slowdown has spilled into the state economy, making businesses more cautious about hiring. But in sharp contrast to the national economy, our average weekly earnings have shown strong growth for the last six months, increasing at well over twice the rate from a year ago”

Employment in Kentucky’s manufacturing sector gained 1,600 jobs in September 2015. Since September 2014, employment in manufacturing has increased by 6,500 jobs. Durable goods account for almost two-thirds of the manufacturing sector and grew by 5 percent from a year ago with the addition of 7,500 jobs, whereas nondurable goods jobs declined by 1.2 percent.

“Domestic demand has helped the manufacturing sector,” said Shanker. “Locally, the new Lexus line is gearing up for production this week, and that has driven up employment and wages for the last several months.”

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 1,600 jobs in September 2015. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 380,000 jobs that account for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since September 2014, jobs in this sector have expanded by 2,500 positions. Retail and wholesale trade together gained 200 jobs over the year, while transportation and warehousing gained 2,300 positions.

The leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 500 positions in September 2015. Since September 2014, this sector has grown by 5,600 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, rose by 200 jobs from a month ago. This sector has increased by 500 jobs from a year ago.

The information sector remained flat in September 2015, and added 300 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 financial activities sector was unchanged from a month ago. The sector has increased by 3,700 positions over the last 12 months.

Mining and logging sector jobs declined by 200 in September 2015. The industry has lost 1,800 jobs since last September.

Employment in the construction sector dropped by 200 in September 2015 from a month ago. Since September 2014, employment in construction has expanded by 1,800 positions.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector declined by 700 positions in September 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 2,300 since last September. 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 decreased by 1,500 positions in September 2015, but posted a robust gain of 7,600 jobs over the year.

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, fell by 1,300 jobs in September 2015, but gained 3,700 positions since September 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.

Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at


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