Kentucky's unemployment rate reaches 15.4 percent in April

22 May 2020 - Jillianne Moncrief (WPSD)

FRANKFORT, KY — Kentucky's April 2020 unemployment rate was 15.4 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics which is an  agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. 

The education cabinet says the preliminary April jobless rate was up to.2 percent points from March and up 11.1 percent points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state in April 2019. 

The U.S. jobless rate for April 2020 was 14.7 percent, up from 4.4 percent in March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

The education cabinet says 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, and includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed. 

Kentucky's civilian labor force was 2,060,553 in April, a decrease of 5,722 individuals from March, according to the education cabinet. Additionally, the number of people employed in April fell by 216,043, while the number of unemployed increased by 210,321.

In a separate federal survey of business establishments that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Employment Statistics program says Kentucky's nonfarm employment decreased by 289,600 jobs, or 15 percent, in April.  Kentucky’s employment was down 299,900 jobs relative to April 2019, or 15.5 percent.

The survey says all of Kentucky's 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System job sectors reduced employment in April. 

The education cabinet says the states leisure and hospitality sector shed 82,100 positions in April, which is a decline of 42.2 percent. This was down 89,600 positions since April 2019. The accommodations and food services subsector lost 69,700 jobs from March to April. 

Employment in the arts, entertainment, and recreation subsector also decreased by 12,400 jobs. 

Kentucky's manufacturing employment declined by 54,500 positions from March to April, or 21.7 percent. Employment in durable good manufacturing decreased by 48,500 jobs, while non-durable manufacturers decreased by 6,000 jobs in April. The state's employment for manufacturing decreased by 55,500 jobs since April of last year. 

Additionally, Kentucky's trade, transportation, and utilities sector lost 42,300 jobs in April, which is a decrease of 10.7 percent. Wholesale trade declined by 4,500 jobs; retail trade decreased 28,000 jobs; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities decreased by 9,800 jobs. Since April 2019, employment in this sector has decreased by 49,400 positions or 12.2 percent. 

Employment in the state's educational and health services sector decreased by 35,400 jobs in April of this year. The educational services subsector was down 3,100 jobs this April. Health care and social assistance subsector declined by 32,300 positions from March to April. 

Since last April, the sector has fallen by 31,800 positions or 11.3 percent.

“While the health care sector typically performs relatively well during economic downturns, shortages of personal protective equipment and restrictions on elective procedures have contributed to fewer services being provided and a 12.5 percent decline in health care employment,” says University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research Interim Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “National health care employment experienced similar decreases, with most of the losses being concentrated in offices of physicians, dentists, and other health care practitioners.” 

The professional and business services sector declined by 35,300 jobs or 16.1 percent in April 2020. The administration and support and waste management subsector lost 24,300 positions; the professional, scientific and technical services subsector lost 10,600 positions; and the management of companies subsector lost 400 positions. This sector was down 30,800 jobs since April 2019.

Total employment in the government sector fell by 16,000 jobs from March to April.

Federal government employment decreased by 200 jobs; state government employment decreased by 5,200 jobs; and local government employment decreased by 10,600 jobs. Total government employment has declined by 16,100 jobs since April 2019.

Employment decreased by 11,800 jobs in the other services sector from March to April. This sector was down by 10,100 positions since April 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Employment in Kentucky’s construction sector was down 6,600 jobs last month. This represents a decline of 8.3 percent. The construction sector was down 6,500 jobs, or 8.1 percent, from one year ago.

Employment in the information services sector fell by 1,900 jobs in April 2020. This sector was down 3,300 positions from a year ago. The industries in this sector includes traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Kentucky’s mining and logging sector fell by 1,900 jobs from March to April, and was down 4,400 jobs, or 41.9 percent, from a year ago.

The financial activities sector lost 1,800 jobs in April 2020. The finance and insurance subsector was down 1,300 jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector was down 500 jobs from March to April. The sector was down 2,400 jobs compared to last April.

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, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit the Kentucky Center for Statistics website.

Additional information is available on the Education & Workforce Development Cabinet website.