Jobless rates up in region

The Hopkins County unemployment rate jumped to 5.6 percent in June, up from 4.9 percent in May.

However, the increase is likely due to the time of year rather than any significant change in employment, according to Mike Clark, associate director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky.

"What seems to be going on is just seasonality," Clark said, referring to how jobs in some industries, such as retail and construction, fluctuate depending on the time of year. "You really need to be looking at the trends over time."

Hopkins County's unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in June 2016, so even though it jumped up from May, the June 2017 estimate is still below last year's rate. Looking back to 2000, the rate generally fluctuates between just above 6 percent to just above 4 percent. The exception is during the Great Recession, when the jobless rate peaked at more than 11 percent in 2010. In fact, Hopkins County didn't return to its normal unemployment pattern until late 2014.

Clark pointed out that employment is increasing across the state, although that trend is slowing.

"People leaving the labor force is less of an issue," he said. "Discouraged workers are coming back; the labor force is growing in total."

The unemployment rate in Muhlenberg County was 8.1 percent in June, up from 6.6 percent in May and 7.4 percent in June 2016. In Webster County, the rates were 5.8 percent in June, 5.2 percent in May and 6.2 in June 2016. Christian County saw rates of 7.3 percent in June, 6.2 percent in May and 5.6 percent in June 2016.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, up from 5 percent in May and 5 percent in June 2016.

Ninety-six of Kentucky's 120 counties saw an increase in unemployment in June, according to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

By Mike Alexieff

Published in The MessengerĀ on 29 July 2017