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Kentucky's February unemployment rate down to 4.1 percent
March 23, 2018

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary February unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The unemployment rate for February 2018 was down from the revised 4.3 percent reported for January 2018.

The preliminary February 2018 jobless rate was down 1 percentage point from the 5.1 percent recorded for the state in February 2017.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for February 2018 was unchanged from the 4.1 percent reported for January 2018, 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 in the number of people working. It includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

In February 2018, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,048,867, a decrease of 950 individuals compared to the previous month. The number of people employed was up by 2,271, while the number unemployed decreased by 3,221.

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 3,000 jobs in February 2018 compared to January 2018. Kentucky has added 7,200 jobs since February 2017, a 0.4 percent employment growth.

“Kentucky’s employers continued to add workers in February helping to push the state’s unemployment rate down to 4.1 percent,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Chris Bollinger, Ph.D.

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, seven of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors experienced employment growth from the previous month, while four sectors declined.

Kentucky’s, trade, transportation and utilities employment recorded the largest increase in February 2018 with 1,300 jobs. This sector was up 8,400 positions or 2.1 percent from February 2017 to February 2018. From January 2018 to February 2018, wholesale trade decreased by 600 jobs; retail trade increased by 2,400; and transportation, warehousing and utilities decreased by 500 positions.

“Transportation, warehousing and utilities showed strong growth in 2017 and this trend has continued in the early months of 2018,” said Bollinger. “February’s increase occurred among retailers.”

The professional and business services sector gained 1,100 jobs from January 2018 to February 2018, an increase of 0.5 percent, but was unchanged from February 2017. Within the sector, employment in professional, scientific and technical services was up 500 jobs from January 2018 and is up 1,600 jobs from February 2017. Management of companies lost 400 positions from over the month, a loss of 2 percent. Administrative and support and waste management added 1,000 jobs from January 2018 to February 2018, but is down 300 from a year ago.

Kentucky’s manufacturing grew by 1,000 jobs in February 2018, an increase of 0.4 percent. Both durable and nondurable goods manufacturing grew over the month with durable goods manufacturing leading the way with 600 more jobs. Non-durable goods manufacturing added 400 positions. Since February 2017, Kentucky’s manufacturing sector has added 900 jobs or 0.4 percent.

The financial activities sector gained 300 positions from January 2018 to February 2018, but fell by 500 jobs since last February. Within this sector, finance and insurance gained 500 jobs, while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector lost 200 positions in February 2018.

The leisure and hospitality sector increased by 200 jobs from January 2018 to February 2018, a 0.1 percent gain. Accommodations and food service added 300 jobs, while arts, entertainment and recreation lost 100 jobs in February. Since February 2017, this sector has lost 200 positions or 0.1 percent.

Employment in the information services sector rose by 200 jobs in February 2018. This sector has declined 300 jobs or 1.3 percent since February 2017. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Jobs in mining and logging increased by 100 jobs from January 2018 to February 2018. However, employment in this sector for February 2018 is the same as it was in February 2017.

Employment in the other services sector declined by 100 positions in February 2018, but added 1,900 from a year ago. This represents a growth rate of 2.9 percent from February 2017 to February 2018. Other services includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

The education and health services sector dropped by 200 jobs in February 2018. Within this sector, employment in educational services fell by 100 positions, and jobs in health care and social assistance declined by 100 jobs. Employment in this sector was at the same level in February 2017 and February 2018.

The government sector fell by 400 jobs in February 2018. Within this sector, federal employment declined by 500 jobs; state employment dropped by 300 positions; and local government employment increased by 400 jobs. Since February 2017, government employment was down by 700 jobs or 0.2 percent.

Construction employment decreased by 500 jobs from January 2018 to February 2018, a loss of 0.7 percent. Over the past 12 months, construction employment was down by 2,300 jobs or 3 percent.

“Construction employment increased during the first three quarters of 2017, but has declined somewhat since September,” said Bollinger. “February’s construction employment was down 2,300 from September 2017.”

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 https://kcews.ky.gov/KYLMI.

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