Home » Chamber report cites drawbacks, strengths in Kentucky’s quest for economic growth

Chamber report cites drawbacks, strengths in Kentucky’s quest for economic growth

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 18, 2012) — Kentucky has serious work to do to become a more competitive place to do business and achieve economic prosperity, according to a new report from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Ready for Jobs? examines how Kentucky compares to other states on key indicators of a competitive business environment and finds the state coming up short in such areas as health, education and tort liability but performing relatively well in business taxation and the cost of doing business.

The report, which includes recommendations for improvement, also addresses the importance of protecting and promoting such key sectors as coal, bourbon, manufacturing and the equine industry.

Here is a closer look at the state’s strengths and weaknesses in key areas as reported in Ready for Jobs?

Economic Climate


Low cost of doing business

Low cost of living

Seventh-lowest energy costs in the country

Top tier of states for economic growth from 2009-2010


47th in per capita income

Fifth 5th in the number of citizens living below the poverty level.

Citizens less likely to improve their economic standing at the end of their prime working years than are typical Americans

Regulatory and Tax Environment


Ranked in the top half of states in the State Business Tax Climate Index, based on the impact of five major taxes: corporate, individual income, sales, unemployment insurance and property


Ranked among the worst states for tort liability in the Tort Liability Index

Ranked 30th in overall regulatory environment (costs imposed by government)

Ranked 30th in state and local tax burden as a percentage of income

Employment Climate


Relatively low health insurance costs when compared to other states

Workers’ compensation rates slightly below average


No right-to-work law.

Above the national average for unemployment insurance employer contributions as a percent of both taxable wages and total wages



Significant progress in increasing college enrollment and the number of degrees awarded

Dramatic improvement in national ranking on key education indicators, including K-12 achievement


Low overall education attainment

ACT scores trail national average

Health/Quality of Life


Low cost of living

Low crime rate


Health status ranked 43rd with high rates of smoking, obesity, cancer deaths and preventable hospitalizations

Ranked 49th in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index



Ranked 14th overall in state highway system performance

Motor fuel taxes below national average


High highway fatality rates

Urban interstate congestion

Government Spending and Debt


Progress in limiting spending growth in Medicaid, corrections and public employee health insurance

Medicaid managed care expanded statewide

Sentencing reforms enacted to reduce the prison population

Spending increases in public employee health insurance reduced to 2% per year.


State spending per capita ranked 20th

State debt as a percent of income 12th

Ranked 8th in state pension debt measured as percent of income

Identified as among the worst states in the country in terms of pension funding

The full report, with detailed findings and data sources, is available at kychamber.com.

“It is our hope the information in this report will promote action to create policies that will help businesses grow, create good jobs and build a stronger future for all Kentuckians,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Chamber. “We stand ready to work in a constructive partnership with policymakers and other businesses and organizations to achieve our shared goal of moving the state forward.”