Kentucky economic conditions uneven as new year begins

Kentucky economic conditions uneven as new year begins

Fastest growing counties are Hardin, Madison and Christian

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 26, 2013) — Economic conditions are uneven across the state as 2014 begins, according to a recent study by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

kentuckyThe study, conducted by Dr. Paul Coomes, the chamber’s senior economic advisor, looks at data from local fiscal reports and federal databases from 2007 to 2013. The data covers wage and salary growth, job growth, and housing market indicators.

Coomes is an emeritus professor of economics at the University of Louisville and a special consultant to the Urban Studies Institute at UofL.

The data provides specific information about the following regions across the state: Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Henderson, Lexington, Owensboro, Northern Kentucky, Elizabethtown, Richmond, Paducah, Somerset, Ashland and Louisville. It shows “where Kentucky’s economy stands now and compares it to pre-recession levels,” said Dave Adkisson, chamber president and CEO.

Among the findings:

• Wages and salary growth since 2007 (the peak of last national expansion) in major local government jurisdictions varied widely, from a low of 8 percent in the City of Covington to a high of 27 percent for Boone County Fiscal Court. The largest cities — Louisville and Lexington — have been slow to rebound from the recession, with payrolls growing more slowly than the state average.

• The fastest growing Kentucky counties in terms of wages and salaries paid since the last recession have been Hardin, Madison and Christian counties, all of which are home to military operations that have expanded.

• Job growth has been uneven, with several metropolitan areas now surpassing the number of jobs they supported before the 2008 recession. The Owensboro metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has had the strongest net job growth, followed by Clarksville-Hopkinsville. But several metros are still well below their 2007 peak job levels, including Huntington-Ashland and Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky. The state of Kentucky, as a whole, is still about 34,000 jobs (2 percent) below its peak in 2007.

• The housing recovery is actually more like housing stability, with new home construction still below half of its 2005 peak in most markets. The good news is that the last few years have been very stable across Kentucky. Going back to the bubble years of the first half of the last decade is not realistic, nor recommended given the severe financial and economic consequences of the overbuilding and easy credit.