State’s slow job gains continue in January, most sectors still down over the year

11 March 2021 - Steve Roger (WTVQ)

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary January 2021 unemployment rate was 5.3%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The preliminary January 2021 jobless rate was down 0.3 percentage points from December 2020 and up 1.2 percentage points from the 4.1% recorded for the state one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for January 2021 was 6.3%, down from the 6.7% reported in December 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 1,989,741 in January 2021, an increase of 6,982 individuals from December 2020. The number of people employed in January increased by 11,460, while the number unemployed decreased by 4,478.

“Kentucky’s economy continued to recover in January,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark. “Strong employment gains pushed the state’s unemployment rate down to 5.3% as more workers returned to the labor force.”

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 12,800 jobs in January 2021 compared to December 2020. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was down 101,900 jobs or 5.2% compared to January 2020.

“Kentucky’s nonfarm employment also improved in January,” said Clark. “The Commonwealth’s job gains were led by businesses in the accommodations and food services sector. In December, additional capacity restrictions were placed on restaurants and bars to curb growing COVID-19 cases. As a result, these businesses reduced their December payrolls. As the restrictions were eased later in the month, employers resumed operations and called employees back to work.”

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

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 8,900 jobs from December 2020 to January 2021 for an increase of 5.6%. This sector was down 38,100 jobs or 18.6% compared to January 2020. The accommodations and food services subsector expanded payrolls by 8,500 positions during January while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector added 400 positions.

The professional and business services sector increased by 3,100 jobs or 1.5% in January 2021. The administrative and support and waste management subsector gained 3,300 positions. The management of companies subsector added 100 jobs. Employment in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector was down 300 jobs. Employment in this sector was down 4,900 or 2.3% since January 2020.

“After falling in December, employment in professional and business services rebounded in January,” said Clark. “This volatility could reflect changes in the use of temporary workers hired through employment agencies.”

The financial activities sector gained 1,600 positions in January 2021. The finance and insurance subsector reported 1,100 additional jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector had 500 more positions from December 2020 to January 2021. The sector was up 1,100 jobs or 1.2% from last January.

Employment in Kentucky’s construction sector rose by 1,100 jobs in January 2021, a 1.4% increase from December. The construction sector was down 1,900 jobs or 2.3% from one year ago.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sector increased by 900 jobs in January 2021. Employment in the educational services subsector increased 400 positions. The health care and social assistance subsector gained 500 jobs in January. Since last January, the sector was down 12,600 positions or 4.3%.

Employment in the information services sector was up 400 jobs from December to January. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. This sector was down 1,200 jobs or 5.6% from a year ago.

The other services sector gained 100 jobs in January but was down 7,000 positions since January 2020. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector was unchanged from December 2020 to January 2021. Jobs in retail trade fell by 500 jobs in January. Transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector added 300 jobs while the wholesale trade subsector had 200 more jobs from December to January. Since January 2020, employment in this sector was down 1,100 positions or 0.3%.

Kentucky’s mining and logging sector lost 100 jobs from December 2020 to January 2021 and was down 1,800 jobs or 19.8% from a year ago.

The government sector trimmed employment by 100 jobs from December 2020 to January 2021. While federal government employment fell by 100 jobs and state government employment fell by 800 jobs from December 2020 to January 2021, local government employment was up 800 positions. Total government employment was down 22,200 positions or 7.1% since January 2020.

Employment at Kentucky’s manufacturers contracted by 3,100 jobs or 1.3% from December 2020 to January 2021. The losses occurred entirely in the durable goods subsector. Employment in non-durable goods was unchanged from December 2020 to January 2021. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was down 12,200 jobs or 4.9%, since January 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.