Employment slowly rebounding in state, hospitality shows biggest gains

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary June 2020 unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).

The preliminary June 2020 jobless rate was down 6.6 percentage points from May 2020 and equaled the 4.3 percent recorded for the state one year ago. The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for June 2020 was 11.1 percent, down from 13.3 percent in May 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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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’s civilian labor force was 1,920,269 in June 2020, a decrease of 109,064 individuals from May 2020. The number of people employed in June increased by 28,536, while the number unemployed decreased by 137,600.

“Although Kentucky’s unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in June, a level similar to rates at the beginning of the year, this does not indicate that Kentucky’s economy has returned to normal,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “The lower unemployment rate was driven primarily by a large number of unemployed workers who stopped looking for work. Employment did improve in June, but there were still approximately 158,000 fewer people employed in June than in February.”

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 109,000 jobs, or 6.6 percent, in June 2020 compared to May 2020. Kentucky’s employment was down 177,500 jobs relative to June 2019, or 9.2 percent.

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for all of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in June.

“While still significantly below normal, Kentucky’s payroll employment improved as businesses continued to adjust their operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and recall their employees,” said Clark. “Job gains were wide-spread, with all major employment sectors adding workers.”

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector reported the largest improvement, recovering 33,200 positions from May to June. This represents an increase of 25 percent. This sector was down 36,100 jobs since June 2019. The accommodations and food services subsector added 26,400 jobs from May to June. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector increased by 6,800 jobs.

Kentucky’s manufacturing employment increased 26,500 jobs from May 2020 to June 2020, or 12.8 percent. Employment in durable goods manufacturing gained 23,300 jobs, while non-durable manufacturers added 3,200 jobs in June. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was down 18,400 jobs since June 2019.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 18,500 jobs in June 2020, an increase of 5.2 percent. Most of the gains occurred in the retail trade sector, which recovered 14,300 jobs in June. Wholesale trade added 1,700 jobs and transportation, warehousing, and utilities added 2,500 jobs. Since June 2019, employment in this sector has decreased by 29,300 positions or 7.3 percent.

Employment in Kentucky’s educational and health services sector increased by 10,700 jobs in June 2020. The educational services subsector was down 800 jobs in June. Health care and social assistance subsector increased by 11,500 jobs from May to June. Since last June, the sector has fallen by 20,000 jobs or 7.1 percent.

The professional and business services sector gained 8,400 jobs or 4.8 percent in June 2020. The administration and support and waste management subsector added 3,800 positions; the professional, scientific and technical services subsector added 4,600 positions; and the management of companies subsector was unchanged. This sector was down 31,600 jobs since June 2019.

Employment in the other services sector increased by 5,100 jobs from May 2020 to June 2020. This sector was down by 2,200 positions since June 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Employment in Kentucky’s construction sector was up 3,900 jobs in June 2020. This represents an increase of 5.1 percent from May. The construction sector was up 600 jobs, or 0.7 percent, from one year ago.

“Construction employment has been resilient despite the recession,” said Clark. “It is the only sector to show increased employment from a year ago.”

The information services sector added 1,100 jobs in June 2020. This sector was down 3,100 jobs from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

The financial activities sector added 700 jobs in June 2020. The finance and insurance subsector was up 100 jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector was up 600 jobs from May to June. The sector was down 5,900 jobs compared to last June.

Kentucky’s mining and logging sector added 700 jobs from May 2020 to June 2020, and was down 2,900 jobs, or 29.3 percent, from a year ago.

The government sector increased employment by 200 jobs from May 2020 to June 2020. Federal government employment decreased by 200 jobs; state government employment decreased by 400 jobs; and local government employment increased by 800 jobs. Total government employment has declined by 28,600 jobs since June 2019.

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.