Kentucky unemployment rate drops from October

17 December 2020 - Tom Latek (Kentucky Today)

FRANKFORT (KY) —  Kentucky’s unemployment rate last month had a significant drop from October, but still remains above the pre-pandemic level of a year ago, according to figures released by the Kentucky Center for Statistics on Thursday.

The preliminary November 2020 unemployment rate was 5.6%, down 1.7 percentage points from the previous month, but up 1.3 percentage points from the 4.3% recorded for the state in November 2019.

The civilian labor force was 1,998,601 in November, an increase of 36,929 individuals from October. The number of people employed in November increased by 67,391 while the number unemployed fell by 30,462.

In a separate federal survey of businesses that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 1,000 jobs in November over the previous month but was down 100,600 jobs or 5.2 percent compared to November 2019.

“Kentucky’s unemployment rate improved as more workers reported having a job in November than in October,” said Mike Clark, the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research Director.  “However, non-farm employment showed mixed results across sectors. Employment gains in sectors such as manufacturing, and transportation, warehousing and utilities were offset by new losses in retail, and accommodations and food services. While, on net, employment continued to improve, November’s employment showed that several sectors still face significant challenges.”

The best performer was manufacturing, which jumped 2,500 jobs from October to November, or one percent. Employment in durable goods manufacturing accounted for most of the gains, expanding by 2,300 positions, while employment in non-durable goods manufacturing increased by 200 positions. However, it was down 9,800 jobs, or 3.9%, since November 2019.

“Faced with low inventories and increases in new orders, manufacturers continued to rebuild their workforce in November,” Clark explained.

The sector seeing the largest loss was leisure and hospitality, which declined by 1,700 positions from October to November, a drop of 0.9 percent. This sector has lost 12,700 jobs or 6.3% over the past year. The accommodations and food services subsector cut 4,100 positions from payrolls from October to November while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector added 2,400 positions.

“Accommodations and food services gave back some of the jobs it recovered since April,” said Clark. “Restaurants, in particular, are likely facing further reductions in capacity as colder weather sets in, leading to new cuts in payrolls.”

Overall, Kentucky performed better than the nation as a whole. The U.S. Seasonally adjusted jobless rate for November 2020 was 6.7 percent, down from 6.9 percent in October 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.