FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 16, 2015) — Once again, Kentucky’s unemployment rate is dropping. Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary March 2015 unemployment rate dipped to 5.1 percent, the lowest rate since June 2001 when it was 5 percent.
Kentucky’s figure is below the national rate for the eighth month in a row, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
The state rate fell from the revised February 2015 rate of 5.3 percent and was 2.1 percentage points below the 7.2 percent recorded in March 2014.
The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 5.5 percent for March 2015 was unchanged from the February 2015 rate, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Kentucky’s unemployment rate continues to improve steadily,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the Office of Employment and Training. “The last time the levels dipped to the 5.1 percent range was in June 2001. To put that in perspective, it’s about the time the first Shrek movie hit the box office, and cell phones didn’t have cameras.”
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 March 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,993,171, an increase of 5,043 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 7,353, and the number of unemployed decreased by 2,310.
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 decreased by 6,300 jobs in March 2015 from the month before, but jumped by 35,900 positions since March 2014.
“The decline from a month ago in nonfarm employment is a result of winter storm Thor which set an all-time two-day snowstorm record, which had stood since January 1943. Parts of Kentucky picked up over 20 inches of snow from Thor. This resulted in a disruption in employment in key sectors like construction, retail trade and hospitality,” said Shanker. “Even though the data is seasonally adjusted, an impact of the scale of Thor can’t be accommodated statistically. The employment situation is strong, though, as evidenced by the almost 2 percent increase in nonfarm employment from March a year ago.”
Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, three of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors registered gains in employment, while seven declined from the previous month and one remained the same.
Kentucky’s professional and business services sector jumped by 3,100 positions in March 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 11,200 since last March. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.
Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, rose by 700 in March 2015 from a month ago. This sector has gained 800 jobs from a year ago.
The information sector increased by 200 jobs in March 2015. This segment has declined by 400 positions since March 2014. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.
Employment in the government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, stayed flat in March 2015, but gained 400 positions since last March.
The state’s manufacturing sector decreased by 100 jobs in March 2015. Since March 2014, employment in manufacturing has ballooned by 4,300 jobs.
The financial activities sector fell by 200 jobs in March 2015. The sector has gained 1,700 positions over the last 12 months.
Mining and logging sector jobs dropped by 300 in March 2015. The industry has lost 1,100 jobs since last March.
Employment in the educational and health services sector decreased by 700 positions in March 2015, but gained 5,300 jobs over the year. Healthcare jobs, which account for nearly 90 percent of employment in this sector, had a month-to-month decline of 1,000 jobs in March 2015 while educational services gained 300 positions.
The leisure and hospitality sector lost 2,300 positions in March 2015. Since March 2014, this sector has grown by 7,000 jobs for an increase of nearly 4 percent. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services.
The state’s trade, transportation and utilities sector fell by 2,600 jobs in March 2015 compared to February 2015. From a year ago, employment has grown by 6,600 jobs. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 380,000 jobs that account for one-fifth of all nonfarm jobs. Retail trade lost 1,900 jobs over the month, while transportation and warehousing fell by 700 positions.
Employment in the construction sector dropped by 4,100 in March 2015 from a month ago. Since March 2014, employment in construction has risen by 100 positions.
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.