Boyle County unemployment rate about twice as high as last year

The latest data released on Boyle County’s unemployment rate is from October, a rate of 8.3%, said Jody Lassiter, president/CEO of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership. It’s about twice as high as October 2019’s rate, which was 4.5%.

“Jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors, particularly restaurants, hotels, entertainment, and small retail or service businesses, have been most impacted due to state government restrictions for occupancy, periodic closures, and limitations to business or tourist travel,” Lassiter said in an email. “The most secure jobs are those that have the flexibility to work remotely from home. However, jobs in our local industrial, health care, educational, finance, and governmental sectors have continued to remain strong.”

The unemployment rate in Boyle County has been fluctuating up and down monthly during the pandemic, he said, facing a peak in April at 19.8%, which fell to 9.2% in August, with a low of 5.6% in June.

Even during this time of economic turmoil, Lassiter said there are about 500 jobs “open, available and advertised” in industrial, health care and educational sectors alone in the county. He said the EDP has been assisting major employers in the community to promote their job openings on social media to reach not only Boyle County but beyond.

“At present, the EDP is targeting an investment of up to $30,000 of its marketing funds to launch a talent attraction digital marketing initiative in a wide geographical area in Central Kentucky to increase the applicant pool for local jobs,” Lassiter said in his email.

He said the economy is expected to rebound with the continued dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines — Boyle County got its first round for first responders and health care workers Dec. 23 — but even so the community must focus on filling the hundreds of current job vacancies before meeting the demands of attracting new jobs to the local economy. Lassiter said this is something economic development organizations across the country are facing.

“Boyle County’s primary employers such as health care and industry appear to have weathered the worst of the pandemic storm to date,” Lassiter said in his email. “However, Danville is a retail and hospitality hub for a multi-county region, so our local economy has a greater proportion of jobs in these sectors than other counties around us. These businesses and jobs have been most vulnerable to COVID-19 and state policies aimed at limiting its spread. This will continue to be the case until enough of the population has been vaccinated to ease these restrictions.”