FRANKFORT, Ky. — Before the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic began to make its impact felt in March, Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary February 2020 unemployment rate was 4.2%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).
The preliminary February 2020 jobless rate was down 0.1% from January 2020 and unchanged from the 4.2% recorded for the state in February 2019. The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for February 2020 was 3.5%, down from 3.6% in January 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 civilian labor force was 2,083,955 in February 2020, a decrease of 797 individuals from January 2020. The number of people employed in February rose by 1,498, while the number unemployed decreased by 2,295.
In a separate federal survey of business establishments that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted non-farm employment increased by 3,800 jobs in February 2020 compared to January 2020. Kentucky has added 12,900 jobs since February 2019, for a growth rate of 0.7%.
“As of February, Kentucky’s employment situation continued to improve with the addition of 3,800 jobs,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Interim Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “While more people found work in recent months, growth in the state’s labor force has slowed.”
Non-farm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, eight of Kentucky’s 11 major non-farm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors had employment increases from the previous month and three declined.
The professional and business services sector added 2,300 jobs, or 1.1%, in February 2020. This sector was up 6,500 jobs since February 2019. The administration and support and waste management sub-sector accounted for most of this growth with a gain of 2,200 positions from January to February. The professional, scientific and technical services sub-sector was up 100 jobs in February and the management of companies sub-sector was unchanged.
“Employment levels in professional and business services have bounced around over the past few months,” noted Clark. “This could reflect greater use of temporary employees who provide firms the ability to adjust staffing levels quickly.”
Total employment in the government sector increased by 900 jobs from January 2020 to February 2020. Federal government employment decreased by 100 jobs; state government employment increased by 600 jobs; and local government employment increased by 400 jobs. Total government employment has declined by 100 jobs since February 2019.
Kentucky’s trade, transportation and utilities sector added 800 jobs in February 2020. Wholesale trade declined by 100 jobs; retail trade increased 700 jobs; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities increased by 200 jobs. Since February 2019, employment in this sector has decreased by 3,700 positions, or 0.9%.
Kentucky’s construction sector added 400 jobs in February 2020. The construction sector was up 1,200 jobs, or 1.5%, from one year ago.
“Kentucky’s construction sector appears to have picked up over the past couple of months after declining last Fall,” said Clark.
Employment in Kentucky’s educational and health services sector increased by 300 jobs in February 2020. The health care and social assistance sub-sector added 500 positions from January to February. The educational services sub-sector was down 200 jobs in February 2020. Since last February, the sector has grown by 6,600 positions, or 2.3%.
Employment increased by 200 jobs in the other services sector from January 2020 to February 2020. This sector was up by 1,600 positions since February 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.
The financial activities sector gained 200 jobs in February 2020. These gains occurred entirely in the finance and insurance sub-sector. Employment in the real estate, rental and leasing sub-sector did not change from January to February. The sector was down 900 jobs compared to last February.
Kentucky’s manufacturing employers added 100 positions from January 2020 to February 2020. Employment in durable goods manufacturing declined by 100 jobs, while non-durable manufacturers added 200 jobs in February. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment decreased by 1,200 jobs since February 2019.
Kentucky’s mining and logging sector fell by 100 jobs from January 2020 to February 2020, and was down 2,000 jobs, or 18.5%, from a year ago.
Employment in the information services sector fell by 300 jobs in February 2020. This sector was down 1,200 positions from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.
Employment in Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector fell by 1,000 positions from January 2020 to February 2020. This sector is up 6,100 positions since February 2019. The accommodations and food services sub-sector lost 300 jobs from January to February. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation sub-sector decreased by 700 jobs.
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.