Kentucky unemployment dips some in May

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky’s unemployment fell slightly last month and remains below the national rate, according to figures released by the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet on Thursday.


The seasonally adjusted preliminary May unemployment rate was 4.5%, down 0.2% from April and 6.4% lower than the 10.9% recorded in May 2020, when the restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 limited certain business operations.


The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for May was 5.8%, down from the 6.1% reported in April 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.


“May showed a significant increase in the number of people employed in Kentucky,” said the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Clark.  “However, Kentucky’s total labor force remains low as many workers have not yet returned to the labor market.  This is contributing to the state’s low unemployment rate.”


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 2021 compared to April 2021. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 173,200 jobs or 10.2% compared to May 2020.


“In total, Kentucky has recovered 69% of the jobs lost when the pandemic began,” said Clark. “However, the new jobs are often in different sectors and with different employers than the jobs that were lost.”


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.


Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for six of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System job sectors in May 2021 while three declined and two were unchanged. All eleven major sectors showed higher employment compared to one year ago.


The three sectors seeing a drop were in information services, construction and government.  

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