Region’s employment picture continues slow recovery

19 November 2020 - Steve Roger (WTVQ)

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary October 2020 unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).

The preliminary October 2020 jobless rate was up 1.8 percentage points from September 2020 and up 3.1 percentage points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for October 2020 was 6.9 percent, down from 7.9 percent in September 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based upon 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 1,963,461 in October 2020, an increase of 62,809 individuals from September 2020. The number of people employed increased by 24,752 from September to October, but was still down 173,773 from a year ago. The number unemployed increased by 38,057 from September to October.

“More Kentuckians reported that they worked in October than in September,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “Kentucky’s unemployment rate increased in spite of these employment gains because more Kentuckians also reported that they were without work and actively searching for a job. This increase in the number of people unemployed pushed the state’s unemployment rate up to 7.4 percent. These estimates continue to be volatile from month to month.”

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 10,900 jobs in October 2020 compared to September 2020. Kentucky’s employment was down 107,100 jobs or 5.5 percent compared to October 2019.

“Non-farm employment continued to recover in October,” said Clark. “Retail trade, accommodations and food services, and construction led employment gains. Kentucky has recovered two-thirds of the employment lost in March and April.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for nine of Kentucky’s eleven major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in October 2020 while two declined.

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 3,600 positions from September 2020 to October 2020 for an increase of 1.9 percent. This sector was down 12,100 jobs or 6 percent compared to October 2019. The accommodations and food services subsector added 2,400 jobs from September to October while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector increased by 1,200 jobs.

Employment in Kentucky’s construction sector rose by 2,700 jobs in October 2020, a 3.3 percent increase from September. The construction sector was up 4,200 jobs or 5.2 percent from one year ago.

“Construction employment has improved in five of the past six months and was 5.4 percent higher than just before the pandemic,” said Clark.

The professional and business services sector gained 2,400 jobs or 1.3 percent in October 2020. The administration and support and waste management subsector added 1,800 positions while the professional, scientific and technical services subsector increased by 600 jobs. Job levels in the management of companies subsector were unchanged. Employment in this sector was down 27,800 or 12.5 percent since October 2019.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector increased by 1,000 jobs in October 2020 or 0.3 percent. The retail trade subsector recovered 2,200 jobs in October 2020. The wholesale trade subsector lost 900 positions while the transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector lost 300 jobs. Since October 2019, employment in this sector was down 17,200 positions or 4.3 percent.

The financial activities sector added 900 positions in October 2020. The finance and insurance subsector had 300 more jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector added 600 jobs from September 2020 to October 2020. The sector lost 5,200 jobs compared to last October.

The government sector rose by 500 jobs from September 2020 to October 2020. Federal government employment decreased by 1,600 jobs, but these losses were offset by gains of 1,500 positions in state government and 600 positions in local government. Total government employment was down 22,800 positions or 7.3 percent since October 2019.

Employment in the information services sector was up 300 jobs in October 2020 but was down 3,400 jobs from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Employment in the other services sector increased by 300 jobs in October. This sector was down 800 positions since October 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Kentucky’s manufacturers added 200 jobs from September 2020 to October 2020 or 0.1 percent. Employment in durable goods manufacturing fell by 500 positions while employment in non-durable goods manufacturing increased by 700 positions. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was down 10,500 jobs since October 2019.

Kentucky’s mining and logging sector fell by 100 jobs from September 2020 to October 2020 and was down 1,800 jobs or 19.6 percent from a year ago.

Employment in Kentucky’s educational and health services sector dropped by 900 jobs in October 2020. The employment losses occurred in the educational services subsector, which declined by 1,700 positions. Employment in the health care and social assistance subsector increased by 800 jobs from September to October. Since last October, the sector was down 9,700 positions or 3.4 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, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit