State jobless rate falls between December and January

11 March 2021 - Tom Latek (Kentucky Today)

Kentucky’s jobless rate fell between December and January, according to figures released by the state on Thursday.

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.  That was down 0.3 percentage points from December 2020, but up 1.2 percentage points from the 4.1% recorded for the state one year ago, shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state performed better than the nation as a whole, as 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.

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 the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research 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.”

Those capacity restrictions were eased further in March, so that sector could perform even better in future months.