State’s jobless rate better; but 117,000 fewer jobs from year ago

15 October 2020 - Steve Rogers (WTVQ)

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary September 2020 unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).

The preliminary September 2020 jobless rate was down 1.9 percentage points from August 2020 and up 1.3 percentage points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for September 2020 was 7.9 percent, down from 8.4 percent in August 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 1,925,252 in September 2020, a decrease of 83,590 individuals from August 2020. The number of people employed in September decreased by 41,523, while the number unemployed decreased by 42,067.

“Kentucky’s lower unemployment rate for September was driven by unemployed workers leaving the labor force rather than finding work,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “The number of people working in Kentucky was still down 8.9 percent compared to the months just before the pandemic.”

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 500 jobs in September 2020 compared to August 2020. Kentucky’s employment was down 117,200 jobs or 6 percent compared to September 2019.

“Kentucky’s nonfarm employment grew slightly in September,” said Clark. “Private employers continued to expand their payrolls, but at a slower pace than over the past few months. These gains were mostly offset by employment losses in the public sector.”

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

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 5,400 positions from August 2020 to September 2020 for an increase of 3 percent. This sector was down 14,800 jobs or 7.3 percent compared to September 2019. The accommodations and food services subsector added 4,400 jobs from August to September while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector increased by 1,000 jobs.

Kentucky’s manufacturers expanded their payrolls by 1,900 jobs from August 2020 to September 2020 or 0.8 percent. Durable goods manufacturing accounted for all of these gains, which represents an increase of 1.2 percent for the subsector. Employment in non-durable manufacturing did not change from August 2020 to September 2020. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was down 13,800 jobs since September 2019.

Employment in Kentucky’s construction sector rose by 1,300 jobs in September 2020, a 1.6-percent increase from August. The construction sector was up 1,000 jobs or 1.2 percent from one year ago.

“While construction employment declined during the early months of the pandemic, employment in this sector has recovered in recent months,” said Clark. “Construction is the only major sector to show employment gains from one year ago. These gains appear to be driven partially by increased demand for residential remodeling.”

Employment in the information services sector was up 200 jobs in September 2020 but was down 3,700 jobs from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

The financial activities sector added 100 positions in September 2020. The finance and insurance subsector had 200 more jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector declined 100 jobs from August 2020 to September 2020. The sector lost 5,500 jobs compared to last September.

Employment in the other services sector was unchanged in September. This sector was down 600 positions since September 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Kentucky’s mining and logging sector did not change from August 2020 to September 2020 but was down 2,000 jobs or 21.1 percent from a year ago.

The professional and business services sector lost 500 jobs or 0.3 percent in September 2020. The administration and support and waste management subsector fell by 300 positions while the professional, scientific and technical services subsector decreased by 200 jobs. Jobs in this sector have plummeted by 24,900 or 11.5 percent since September 2019.

Employment in Kentucky’s educational and health services sector fell by 600 jobs in September 2020. The health care and social assistance subsector added 800 jobs from August to September. However, the educational services subsector declined by 1,400 jobs in September. Since last September, the sector was down 9,400 positions or 3.3 percent.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector declined by 1,500 jobs in September 2020 or 0.4 percent. The retail trade subsector lost 2,400 jobs in September 2020 while wholesale trade gained 1,600 positions. The transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector decreased by 700 jobs. Since September 2019, employment in this sector has shrunk by 21,200 positions or 5.2 percent.

The government sector lost 5,800 jobs from August 2020 to September 2020. Federal government employment decreased by 600 jobs; state government jobs decreased by 200; and local government employment fell by 5,000 jobs. Total government employment was down 22,300 positions or 7.1 percent since September 2019.

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