All Publications

Issue Brief

The Long-Term Decline in Kentucky’s General Fund Buoyancy
Michael T. Childress, William H. Hoyt

Kentucky Ranks 33rd on Education Index
Michael T. Childress, Matthew L. Howell

Research Report

Industry and Labor Characteristics and Projections: The BEAM and WIA Regions
Christopher R. Bollinger, Kenneth R. Troske

The Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement region encompasses the Louisville and Lexington MSAs and the corridor between them. It is an area with much of the manufacturing, medical and transportation & warehousing industries of Kentucky contained within. Over 36% of the population and 38% of the Kentucky labor force live and work in this region. This report analyzes the labor market structure within the region. We also examine the labor market structure in five Workforce Investment Act Regions: Bluegrass, Lake Cumberland, Lincoln Trail, Kentuckiana Works, and Indiana Region 10. We examine employment at the industry and occupation level and project employment growth for the regions. We examine important inter-industry linkages, and how these linkages may be important for attracting and maintaining the manufacturing base, in spite of a 30 year decline in manufacturing employment. We also examine the educational attainment of the regions and consider whether the workforce has the mix of education best suited to growth. Finally, we examine the age structure of occupations important to the regions. As is well known, the baby boomer generation is approaching retirement age. While the impact of the aging population will be felt across all occupations, we examine general characteristics which point to certain types of occupations as having a preponderance of workers in these age categories.

Our main findings:

  • Manufacturing employment will continue to grow at a slower rate than employment in other sectors. The predicted growth in the level of manufacturing employment is a change from the last decade, but consistent with the overall trend in manufacturing as a decreasing proportion of employment.
  • Two key inputs to manufacturing in the BEAM region, and particularly Auto Manufacturing, are the Transportation & Warehousing and the Wholesale Trade industry. 2 The BEAM region has an important cluster in these industries, and this strength could be used to attract additional manufacturing to the region.
  • The Health Care industry, already a primary employer in the region, is projected to grow quite rapidly during the next decade. While health care is not generally an input into manufacturing or other industries, access to high quality health care can be used to attract firms in other industries to the region.
  • In many of the manufacturing industries, the BEAM region has a relatively high concentration of production workers and a low concentration of management. This raises concerns that these industries are not attached to the region. Attracting management requires a highly educated labor force. Without this, attracting large firms will be difficult.
  • Employment of production workers is likely to grow slowly over the next decade. In contrast, while starting from a small base, transportation and materials handling employment is likely to grow quite rapidly.
  • Two types of medium skill occupations are likely to have high growth. All medical technology and technologist occupations and nursing are projected to experience rapid growth. We focus on these two as they require less education (typically an associate’s degree) than many of the other high growth occupations (physicians for example). Similarly, skilled workers in transportation and manufacturing, including truck drivers, welders, computer control programmers and similar occupations are predicted to grow (although at a slower rate). Again, these are occupations with medium skill and education levels.
  • We find that higher paying medium skill occupations (again, truck drivers are an excellent example) are highly skewed toward baby boomers, and thus likely to experience even higher demand.
  • Kentucky continues to lag behind competitor states in its production of highly educated workers. Much of the employment growth will be concentrated in occupations requiring a minimum of a bachelors degree. As noted above, attaching large firms to the region requires an educated work force. Kentucky is failing to produce a large enough pool of these workers to sustain the growth predicted.

Intrastate Switched Telephone Access Charges in Kentucky
Christopher Jepsen, Frank Scott, Jesse Zenthoefer

This report examines the economic consequences of the current access rate system for intrastate long-distance calls, governed by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. At the time Kentucky created an access rate system for telephone service in 1984, the main goal of telecommunication policy was universal wireline access. Since then the telecommunications landscape has changed dramatically, as well as current policy goals. New forms of communication and policy have emerged such as cellular phones and cable telephony, as well as the introduction of the National Broadband Plan and the strong desire both nationally and in Kentucky for ubiquitous broadband availability. Economic theory, along with expert testimony, suggests that the current access system is not socially optimal.


The Relationship between Electricity Prices and Electricity Demand, Economic Growth, and Employment
John Garen, Christopher Jepsen, James Saunoris

There is growing concern over the emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States. Policymakers at both the state and national levels have discussed, and in some cases enacted, policies with the goals of reducing energy demand and encouraging the use of more efficient energy technologies. Because these policies will have an effect on the cost of energy, a quantitative examination of the energy demand is warranted.

In this project, we estimate the likely effects of increased electricity prices on the demand for electricity, production as measured by Gross State Product (GSP), and employment.


Estimates of the Costs and Benefits of Expanding the Early Childhood Education Program in Kentucky
Christopher Jepsen, Kenneth R. Troske, Casey Brasher

Kentucky officials are being encouraged to expand the availability of Kentucky’s state-funded preschool program. The current program restricts eligibility to three- and four-year-old students with disabilities and four-year-old students with family incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.


Housing Affordability in Lexington, Kentucky
Christopher Jepsen, Kenneth R. Troske, Nola Ogunro

The rapid rise in housing prices that occurred between 1990 and 2006 led many communities, including Lexington, Kentucky, to become concerned about whether individuals who hold “typical” jobs—such as teachers and police officers—could continue to live in the communities where they worked. Unfortunately, given the lack of recent detailed studies examining the affordability of housing in Fayette County (which contains Lexington), it is hard to know whether concerns about affordable housing are justified. In response to this lack of information, the Home Builders Association of Lexington and the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors (LBAR) requested that the Center for Business and Economic Researcher (CBER) at the University of Kentucky examine the issue of housing affordability in Fayette County. This report contains the results of our investigation.


Kentucky Annual Report

Kentucky Annual Economic Report 2011
Kenneth R. Troske, Devanathan Sudharshan, Michael T. Childress

Kentucky Annual Economic Report 2010
Kenneth R. Troske, Devanathan Sudharshan, Anna L. Stewart