Kentucky’s unemployment rate at 5 percent in January 2017

Published 8:57 am Friday, March 3, 2017


News release

FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate rose to 5 percent in January 2017 from a revised 4.8 percent in December 2016, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Email newsletter signup

The preliminary January 2017 jobless rate was 0.3 percentage points lower than the 5.3 percent rate recorded for the state in January 2016.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for January 2017 was 4.8 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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 January 2017, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,025,253, an increase of 17,754 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 13,795, while the number of unemployed increased by 3,959.

“In January, our labor force increased by 0.9 percent,” said Kentucky Labor Market Information Director Kate Shirley Akers, Ph.D. “Over the last year, Kentucky has seen growth in both the labor force and the number of employed, with the labor force growing by 2.2 percent and employment increasing by 2.5 percent.”

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 3,600 jobs in January 2017 compared to December 2016.

“Overall, nonfarm employment has increased by 30,600 positions, or 1.6 percent from one year ago,” said Akers. “The largest month-to-month gain in jobs was in the construction sector.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, six of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors registered gains in employment, while five declined from the previous month.

The construction sector saw the largest month-to-month increase in January 2017, growing by 2,900 jobs or 3.8 percent, from a month ago. Since January 2016, this industry has added 2,000 jobs, growing by 2.6 percent.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector jumped by 2,500 jobs in January 2017 compared to December 2016. “The month-to-month increase in manufacturing was driven by gains in durable goods, which grew by 2,500 jobs from December 2016,” said Akers.

The nondurable goods category had no month-to-month gains but has added 1,600 jobs since January 2016. “Overall, the manufacturing sector has grown by 3.1 percent, increasing by 7,600 positions from January a year ago,” she said.

The leisure and hospitality sector increased by 2,300 jobs in January 2017. Since January 2016, the sector has added 1,300 jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services.

Kentucky’s trade, transportation and utilities sector jumped by 400 jobs from December 2016 to January 2017. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 400,000 jobs accounting for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since January 2016, this sector has expanded by 9,300 jobs.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, rose by 400 positions in January 2017 compared to the month before, and gained 1,200 positions since January 2016.

Employment in the information sector increased by 300 in January 2017 and has risen by 1,300 jobs since January 2016. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

The educational and health services sector declined by 1,800 positions in January 2017, but had a gain of 4,900 jobs or 1.8 percent from January 2016. Health care jobs, which account for about 13 percent of all nonfarm employment in Kentucky, increased by 4,700 jobs from January 2016 to January 2017.

The mining and logging sector lost 100 jobs in January 2017. The industry has declined by 2,200 positions from a year ago.

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, decreased by 200 jobs in January 2017, but has added 2,000 positions since last January.

The financial activities sector decreased by 600 jobs in January 2017. The sector has added 2,300 jobs or 2.5 percent since January 2016.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector lost 2,500 jobs in January 2017 from the month before but has added 3,500 since January 2016. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.

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 the Office of Employment and Training at