Jobless rate down, but number of jobs still thousands below February 2020

25 March 2021 - Steve Rogers (WTVQ)

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary February 2021 unemployment rate was 5.2%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The preliminary February 2021 jobless rate was down 0.1 percentage points from January 2021 and up 1% from the 4.2% recorded for the state one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for February 2021 was 6.2%, down from the 6.3% reported in January 2021, 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 1,993,122 in February 2021, an increase of 3,742 individuals from January 2021. The number of people employed in February increased by 6,720 to 1,889,699, while the number unemployed decreased by 2,978 to 103,423.

“The number of workers with jobs improved slightly in February, helping to push the state’s unemployment rate further down,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “Over the past two months, both the number of people in the labor force and the number people employed have improved. However, workers are finding jobs more quickly than they are returning to the labor force, which lowers Kentucky’s unemployment rate.”

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 4,300 jobs in February 2021 compared to January 2021. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was down 100,400 jobs or 5.1% compared to February 2020.

“Payroll data from Kentucky’s employers pointed to a continued recovery in February that was driven primarily by hiring in state educational services,” said Clark. “However, employment was mixed across the state’s other major sectors.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for four of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in February 2021, while five declined and two were unchanged.

Employment in the government sector rebounded in February with the addition of 4,200 jobs from January 2021. Federal government employment rose by 100 jobs; state government jumped by 3,500 jobs; and local government employment increased by 600 jobs. Total government employment was down 17,800 positions or 5.7% since February 2020.

Employment at Kentucky’s manufacturers was up 1,600 jobs or 0.7% from January 2021 to February 2021. The durable goods subsector gained 1,300 jobs and non-durable goods gained 300 jobs. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was down 9,100 positions or 3.6% since February 2020.

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector added 800 positions from January 2021 to February 2021, an increase of 0.5%. This sector was down 36,900 jobs or 18% compared to February 2020.

The accommodations and food services subsector rose by 900 jobs in February while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector lost 100 positions.

The professional and business services sector increased by 500 jobs or 0.2% in February 2021. The administrative and support and waste management subsector gained 300 positions, while the management of companies subsector lost 200 jobs. Employment in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector was up 400 jobs. Employment in this sector was down 6,000 or 2.8% since February 2020.

Employment in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector did not change from January 2021 to February 2021 and was down 1,300 jobs or 14.9% from a year ago.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sector was unchanged in February 2021. Employment in the educational services subsector dropped by 200 positions, but this loss was offset by an increase of 200 jobs in the health care and social assistance subsector. Since last February, the sector has decreased 15,300 positions or 5.3%.

Employment in the information services sector fell by 200 jobs from January to February. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. Jobs in this sector fell by 1,300 or 6% from a year ago.

The other services sector reported 200 fewer jobs in February and was down 7,800 positions since February 2020. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

The financial activities sector lost 400 positions in February 2021. The finance and insurance subsector reported 300 fewer jobs from January 2021 to February 2021 and the real estate, rental and leasing subsector reported 100 fewer jobs. The sector was up 400 jobs or 0.4% from last February.

Kentucky’s construction sector fell by 800 jobs in February 2021, a 1% decrease from January. The construction sector was down 2,900 positions or 3.6% from one year ago.

Employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector was dropped by 1,200 from January 2021 to February 2021. Retail trade employment fell by 1,500 positions in February. Transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector added 900 jobs while the wholesale trade subsector reported 600 fewer jobs in February. Since February 2020, employment in this sector has lost 2,400 positions or 0.6%.

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.