Lexington, Ky. – The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) director Christopher Bollinger is “guardedly optimistic” about Kentucky’s economic prospects this year due to the uncertainty surrounding several economic trends.
Bollinger, an endowed professor of economics at the University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics, is the author of the 44th Kentucky Annual Economic Report, which was released yesterday. CBER is the applied economic research branch of the Gatton College.
The report is one of the many ways CBER fulfills its mandated mission as specified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes to examine various aspects of the Kentucky economy. CBER performs research projects for federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as for private-sector and nonprofit clients nationwide.
The report covers a variety of issues ranging from an economic forecast for Kentucky in 2016 to a comprehensive presentation of agricultural, community, economic, economic security, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, innovation, population, and public finance factors affecting Kentucky’s future economic prosperity.
“It has been a long road to recovery,” Bollinger said. “The state lost 119,000 jobs from the peak of the last economic expansion in December 2007 to the darkest days of February 2010 when Kentucky’s unemployment rate peaked at nearly 11 percent,” he notes. Since then employment levels have improved and in November 2015 Kentucky’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 4.9 percent. Bollinger anticipates it will hold steady and is forecasting an unemployment rate for Kentucky in 2016 below 5 percent.
In addition to the economic forecast, there are more than 100 trends, forces and factors affecting Kentucky’s economy presented in the report. This includes a recently completed analysis looking at the benefits of education for both the individual and the broader community and society; new research results on Kentucky’s educational position relative to other states as well as an assessment of our educational return on investment; an update of the center’s county-level assessment of broadband utilization; and a comprehensive look at state finances and an estimate of Kentucky’s structural deficit. In short, the report provides new and important information, data, and analysis on Kentucky’s economic situation.