State’s jobless rate declines but numbers still show some uncertainties

19 August 2021 - Steve Rogers (WTVQ)

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary July 2021 unemployment rate was 4.4%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics , an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).

The preliminary July 2021 jobless rate was unchanged from June 2021 and down 1.2 percentage points from the 5.6% recorded for the state one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for July 2021 was 5.4%, down from the 5.9% reported in June 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 1,980,596 in July 2021, an increase of 550 individuals from June 2021. The number of people employed in July increased by 1,866 to 1,894,009 while the number unemployed decreased by 1,316 to 86,587.

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 decreased by 5,100 jobs in July 2021 compared to June 2021. Part of the difference is the way teachers and other educators are addressed in the numbers.

Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 48,100 jobs or 2.7% compared to July 2020.

“While total employment declined in July, Kentucky’s private sector firms added 6,000 jobs in July as they rebuild their workforces to meet growing demand,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “Employment gains were widespread with growth in nine of the 11 major industrial sectors. However, these private sector gains were offset by significant declines in local government employment.”

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 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in July 2021, while two declined.

Employment at Kentucky’s manufacturers was up 1,900 jobs or 0.8% from June 2021 to July 2021. The durable goods subsector jumped by 2,800 jobs in July 2021 while non-durable goods lost 900 jobs. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment has increased 8,900 positions or 3.8% since July 2020.

“Kentucky’s durable goods manufacturers saw their largest increase in employment since they reopened in the early months of the pandemic,” said Clark. “Despite challenges obtaining certain inputs, manufacturers are adding workers to their payrolls to help rebuild inventories and meet growing demand.”

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector increased by 1,200 positions from June 2021 to July 2021, a gain of 0.7%. This sector rose by 11,900 jobs or 7.3% compared to July 2020. The accommodations and food services subsector added 1,700 jobs from June to July, while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector lost 500 positions.

The professional and business services sector gained 1,000 jobs or 0.5% in July 2021. Employment in the administrative and support and waste management subsector grew by 2,200 positions. The management of companies subsector fell by 100 jobs and the professional, scientific and technical services subsector lost 1,100 positions. Employment in this sector was up 3,200 or 1.6% since July 2020.

Construction employment expanded by 900 jobs in July 2021, a gain of 1.1% over June. The construction sector was up 6,100 positions or 8.1% from one year ago.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sector added 400 jobs in July 2021. The educational services subsector gained 700 positions from June to July while the health care and social assistance subsector lost 300 positions. Since last July, this sector has increased by 6,600 jobs or 2.4%.

Employment in the other services sector rose by 300 jobs in July 2021 and jumped by 2,200 positions since July 2020. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 300 positions from June 2021 to July 2021. Retail trade employment was up 400 jobs in July; wholesale trade was up 200 positions; and transportation, warehousing and utilities was down 300 jobs. Since July 2020, employment in this sector has jumped by 11,200 jobs or 2.8%.

The number of jobs in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector increased by 100 positions from June 2021 to July 2021 but was down 100 positions or 1.4% from a year ago.

Information services sector jobs gained 100 positions from June to July. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. The number of jobs in this sector was up by 100 or 0.5% from one year ago.

Employment in the financial activities sector dropped by 200 positions in July 2021. The finance and insurance subsector fell by 200 jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector was unchanged from June 2021 to July 2021. The sector has grown by 3,600 jobs or 3.9% from last July.

The government sector declined by 11,100 positions from June 2021 to July 2021, a decrease of 3.8%. Employment was up by 100 jobs in the federal government and 300 jobs in the state government subsectors and down 11,500 in the local government subsector. Total government employment fell by 5,600 positions or 1.9% compared to July 2020.

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