By Michael Childress, Carl Nathe, and Ann Mary Quarandillo
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 7, 2017) – Forecasting "robust" economic growth this year and identifying education as the most important factor affecting Kentucky’s economic future, the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) released its 45th Kentucky Annual Economic Report today. CBER is the applied economic research branch of UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics.
“The annual economic report contains a vast amount of information about the state’s economy that can be used by business leaders, policymakers and citizens to become better informed on economic issues,” said Gatton College Dean David Blackwell.
The report covers a variety of issues ranging from an economic forecast for Kentucky in 2017 to a comprehensive presentation of agricultural, community, economic, economic security, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, innovation, population, and public finance factors affecting Kentucky’s future economic prosperity.
Gatton Endowed Professor of Economics and CBER Director Christopher Bollinger is the author of the report’s 2017 Kentucky economic forecast, and he expects “robust economic growth” this year.
“Increases in both hourly earnings, as well as average weekly earnings, suggest a strengthening labor market, which potentially bodes well for workers during the coming year,” Bollinger said.
The average unemployment rate in Kentucky for the last half of 2016, from July 2016 to December 2016, was around 5 percent; the last time Kentucky experienced an unemployment rate this low for six consecutive months was March 2001 to August 2001, over 15 years ago.
In addition to the economic forecast, there are more than 100 trends, forces and factors affecting Kentucky’s economy presented in the report. This includes several county- and regional-level comparisons of earnings and employment; county-level analyses of the social determinants of health as well as social capital; updated research results on Kentucky’s educational position relative to other states as well as an assessment of the state's educational return on investment; and an updated analysis of Kentucky’s state finances compared to other states. In short, throughout this report there is new and important information, data, and analyses on Kentucky’s economic situation.
“We have produced an annual report that paints a diverse and comprehensive picture of our state’s economy, its communities, and its citizens,” Bollinger said. “Despite the constant change confronting us, there are timeless and enduring lessons. Pursuing educational excellence as well as economic innovation — since ideas, innovation, and intellectual capital form the foundation of the knowledge economy — is essential for Kentucky to improve its per capita income and achieve broad prosperity.”
Digital copies of the Center for Business and Economic Research 2017 Kentucky Annual Economic Report can be obtained at the CBER website at http://cber.uky.edu or by calling 859-257-2912 or sending an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The report, being released at today's Annual Economic Outlook Conference, is one of the many ways CBER fulfills its mandated mission as specified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes to examine various aspects of the Kentucky economy. CBER performs research projects for federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as for private-sector and nonprofit clients nationwide.