Kentucky’s jobless rate at 5.1 percent in May 2015


FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s preliminary May unemployment rate stayed at a seasonally adjusted 5.1 percent compared to a revised 5.1 percent in April 2015, and remained well below the national rate, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The state rate in May 2015 was 1.6 percentage points below the 6.7 percent rate recorded in May 2014.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate in May 2015 rose to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent in April 2015, 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 May 2015, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 1,995,361, a decline of 1,790 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was down by 3,314, but the number of unemployed increased by 1,524.

“The overall labor market continues to improve in Kentucky. The slight blip in May when the month-to-month employment declined more than the labor force, is just that: a blip,” said economist Manoj Shanker of the OET. “We have now had 10 straight months when unemployment rates in Kentucky have been lower than the national average.”

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 5,100 jobs in May 2015 from the month before, and jumped by 39,300 positions since May 2014.

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.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector jumped by 2,500 positions in May 2015 from a month ago. The sector has grown by 8,900 since last May. This category includes establishments engaged in services that support the day-to-day activities of other organizations, including temporary employment services and payroll processing.

“It’s a promising sign for the overall economy when almost all the new positions — 2,100 of the 2,500 jobs — are in high-wage areas like legal, accounting, computer design and advertising services,” said Shanker

Employment in the construction sector rose by 1,900 in May 2015 from a month ago. Since May 2014, employment in construction has risen by 3,200 positions.

“Construction employment is still short of its pre-recession peak from 2008, but in the last two months we have seen a rebound, especially heavy and civil engineering construction which includes highways and bridges,” said Shanker.

Employment in the educational and health services sector increased by 1,600 positions in May 2015, and posted a robust gain of 9,100 jobs over the year.

The financial activities sector added 900 jobs in May 2015. The sector has expanded by 1,500 positions over the last 12 months.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector grew by 600 jobs in May 2015. Since May 2014, employment in manufacturing has ballooned by 4,200 jobs. Durable goods account for almost two-thirds of the manufacturing sector and grew by 4.5 percent from a year ago, whereas nondurable goods jobs declined by almost 3 percent.

“Kentucky’s manufacturing sector has steadily recovered from the sharp decline during the recession. The durable goods segment has seen steady growth over the last few years in response to domestic demand for appliances and automobiles,” said Shanker. “However nondurable goods, including textile and chemicals, have been slow to recover.”

The leisure and hospitality sector gained 100 positions in May 2015. Since May 2014, this sector has grown by 6,800 jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services.

Employment in the government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, fell by 200 jobs in May 2015, but gained 2,700 positions since last May 2014.

The information sector decreased by 300 jobs in May 2015. This segment has declined by 400 positions since May 2014. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Mining and logging sector jobs declined by 300 in May 2015. The industry has lost 1,400 jobs since last May.

The state’s trade, transportation and utilities sector dropped by 600 jobs in May 2015. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 380,000 jobs that account for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since May 2014, jobs this sector have expanded substantially with the gain of 5,200 positions. Retail trade added 2,600 jobs over the year, wholesale trade jobs remained flat, while transportation and warehousing expanded by 2,600 positions.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, was down by 1,100 in May 2015 from a month ago. This sector has declined by 500 jobs from a year ago.

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.

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