State unemployment rate drops to 4.1% in February 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky.  (March 21, 2019, The Lane Report) — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary February 2019 unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The unemployment rate for February 2019 was down from the 4.2 percent reported for January 2019.

The preliminary February 2019 jobless rate was down 0.2 percentage points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state in February 2018.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for February 2019 was 3.8 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from its January 2019 level, 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. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working. It includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

Kentucky civilian labor force decreased by 303 individuals in February 2019, bringing the state’s labor force to 2,063,180. The number of people employed in February was up by 2,924, while the number unemployed decreased by 3,227.

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 1,400 jobs in February 2019 compared to January 2019. Kentucky has added 21,100 jobs since February 2018, a 1.1 percent employment growth.

“Kentucky employers expanded their payrolls by 1,400 jobs in February,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Associate Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “This is in addition to the 8,500 jobs added in January. While less than January, February’s gains were still similar to the average monthly employment gains in 2018 and do not reflect the slowdown in hiring that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for the nation as a whole in February.”

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 saw employment increases from the previous month while four declined.

Construction employment increased by 1,000 jobs in February or 1.2 percent. The construction sector is up 3,500 jobs during the past 12 months for a gain of 4.5 percent.

“While relatively unchanged throughout most of 2018, Kentucky’s construction industry has begun showing signs of sustained growth,” said Clark. “February marks the third consecutive month of employment gains with construction firms adding 1,600 jobs in December, 800 jobs in January, and 1,000 jobs in February.”

Trade, transportation and utilities sector jumped by 1,000 jobs in February 2019. Since February 2018, employment in this sector expanded by 4,600 positions or 1.1 percent. Employment in wholesale trade did not change in February 2019, while retail trade added 300 jobs. The transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector gained 700 jobs in February 2019.

Professional and business services sector added 700 jobs in February 2019 for a gain of 0.3 percent. This sector is up 800 jobs since February 2018. The administrative and support and waste management subsector increased by 400 positions in February. The professional, scientific and technical services subsector rose by 600 jobs. Employment in the management of companies subsector fell by 300 in February.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector gained 400 jobs or 0.2 percent from January 2019 to February 2019. The employment gains occurred entirely within durable goods manufacturing. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment is up by 2,400 jobs since February 2018.

Employment in the educational and health services sector expanded by 300 jobs in February 2019, a gain of 0.1 percent. Employment was up by 500 positions in the health care and social assistance subsector and down 200 positions in the educational services subsector. Since last February, the sector has increased by 8,000 positions or 2.9 percent.

The financial activities sector grew by 200 jobs from January 2019 to February 2019. This sector rose by 900 jobs or 1 percent compared to last February. The real estate, rental and leasing subsector added 400 positions, while the finance and insurance subsector lost 200 jobs.

Employment in information services was up 200 positions in February 2019. Employment in this sector is down 200 or 0.9 percent since February 2018. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Employment declined by 1,100 jobs in the other services sector from January 2019 to February 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations. Employment in this sector is up by 500 since February 2018.

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector fell by 800 jobs from January 2019 to February 2019, a decrease of 0.4 percent. This sector is up 1,300 jobs since February 2018. The accommodations and food services subsector lost 1,000 jobs, and the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector added 200 positions in February.

The government sector recorded 400 fewer jobs in February. Federal government positions increased by 200, state government declined by 600; and local government was unchanged. Total government employment has decreased by 1,300 since February 2018.

Employment in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector fell by 100 jobs in February, but is up by 600 positions from a year ago for a gain of 6.3 percent.

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.

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