FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 5, 2015) — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary January 2015 unemployment rate of 5.5 percent came in below the U.S. rate of 5.7 percent, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The state rate matched the revised December 2014 rate of 5.5 percent and was 2 percentage points below the 7.5 percent recorded in January 2014.
“In addition to this great start to 2015, the annual revisions which align data for the past year were released yesterday and revealed that Kentucky’s unemployment rate has been below the national rate for the last six months,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “That’s quite an accomplishment. The last time Kentucky’s unemployment rate was below the national average for such an extended period was in 1995.”
The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 5.7 percent for January 2015 was an increase from the December 2014 rate of 5.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based on estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. It is designed to measure trends rather than to count the actual number of people working. It includes jobs in agriculture and those classified as self-employed.
In January 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,981,284, an increase of 7,757 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 6,797, and the number of unemployed rose by 960.
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 3,900 jobs in January 2015 from the month before, and jumped by 40,200 positions since January 2014.
“The year has begun with the addition of a record number of jobs. The last time Kentucky added over 40,000 jobs was 15 years ago when the economy had been pumped up with the dot com phenomena,” said Shanker. “We won’t see too many months with such feverish growth, but it’s reassuring to see strong gains in the job market. Over time that should translate into an increase in wages.”
Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, five of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors registered gains in employment, while five declined and one stayed the same from the previous month.
Kentucky’s manufacturing sector surged by 2,800 jobs in January 2015. Since January 2014, employment in manufacturing has ballooned by 9,000 jobs.
“During the last six months, savings from the low cost of energy have driven up the demand for goods and hence production and employment,” said Shanker.
The state’s trade, transportation and utilities sector gained 2,500 jobs in January 2015 compared to December 2014. From a year ago, employment has grown by 10,400 jobs. This is the largest sector in Kentucky accounting for one-fifth of all nonfarm jobs.
“Over half of these jobs are in the retail trade sector which posted an increase of 500. The rest of the job increase was in wholesale and warehousing,” said Shanker.
The leisure and hospitality sector posted a jump of 2,100 positions in January 2015. Since January 2014, this sector has grown by 6,100 jobs for an increase of 3.4 percent. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services.
“Employment in hotels and restaurants has escalated in response to consumer confidence,” said Shanker.
The construction sector gained 600 jobs in January 2015 from a month ago. Since January 2014, employment in construction has risen by 4,600 positions.
Employment in the educational and health services sector increased by 100 positions in January 2015, and gained 3,400 jobs over the year. Health care jobs, which account for nearly 90 percent of employment in this sector, had a month-to-month decrease of 1,000 jobs in January 2015 but expanded by 2,900 positions over last year.
Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, was unchanged in January 2015 from a month ago. This sector posted a decrease of 400 jobs from last January.
Mining and logging sector jobs dropped by 100 in January 2015. The industry has lost 700 jobs since last January.
The information sector decreased by 300 jobs in January 2015. This segment has declined by 600 positions since January 2014. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.
The financial activities sector fell by 800 jobs in January 2015. The sector has gained 400 positions over the last 12 months.
Employment in the government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, dropped by 1,100 in January 2015, but gained 600 positions since last January.
The professional and business services sector lost 1,900 positions in January 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 7,400 since last January. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.
“The 3.6 percent year-to-year gain in professional and business services was mainly in administrative and support positions which grew by 5,300. There also was a substantial increase in the number of professional, scientific and technology positions,” said Shanker.
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, because of the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.
Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at www.kylmi.ky.gov.