Kentucky more than 22,000 workers short compared to pre-pandemic

Kentucky Chamber quarterly economic report shows the state has recovered 82%

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/PRESS RELEASE) – Two years after the COVID pandemic reached the Commonwealth, Kentucky’s economy continues to move toward a full recovery, according to a new report from the Kentucky Chamber. Based on revised government data, Kentucky has recovered 82 percent of the nearly 300,000 jobs lost during the initial months of the pandemic. The report also shows the state added 38,800 workers to the labor force during 2021, but Kentucky remains more than 22,000 workers short of where it stood before the pandemic began.

“Progress is always good news, especially when it comes to Kentucky’s economic recovery, which has been the Chamber’s focus for the last two years now,” said Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts. “But we still have a ways to go. Even after we get our workforce back to pre-pandemic levels, Kentucky will continue to trail much of the nation when it comes to workforce participation and employment rates. The Chamber is fully committed to policies and programs aimed at building a robust, competitive workforce.”

The new report marks the fifth edition of Kentucky’s Economic Recovery, produced in partnership with the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky. The report covers a wide range of economic data, including job growth, employment and unemployment, job vacancies, inflation, GDP, and the housing market.

Some of the highlights from report include:

  • Kentucky added 38,800 workers to its labor force in 2021
  • Nonfarm employment increased 61,500 jobs, or 3.3%, in 2021 and 65% of these jobs were created during the last six months
  • Kentucky’s December unemployment rate was 4.6% (the previous estimate was 3.9%)
  • Kentucky housing units authorized by building permits increased by 22% in 2021
  • As of December, Kentucky recovered 82% of the 294,900 jobs lost during the initial months of the pandemic

View the full report HERE.

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