Kentucky’s unemployment rate remains at 5% in March

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary March unemployment rate remained unchanged from February at 5 percent, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The preliminary March 2017 jobless rate was 0.1 percentage points lower than the 5.1 percent rate recorded for the state in March 2016.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for March 2017 was 4.5 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 March 2017, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,064,787, an increase of 19,971 individuals compared to the previous month. Employment was up by 18,952, while the number of unemployed increased by 1,019.

“The stable unemployment rate at both the federal and state level indicates a strong economy approaching full employment,” said Kentucky Labor Market Information Director Kate Shirley Akers, Ph.D.

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 1,300 jobs in March 2017 compared to February 2017. Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, seven of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors registered gains in employment, while four declined from the previous month.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector had the largest month-to-month expansion in March 2017, growing by 2,800 positions or 1.1 percent from a month ago. An increase in durable manufacturing employment of 3,000 positions was partially offset by a 200-job decline in nondurable goods. The sector has added 7,700 positions or 3.1 percent since March 2016.

“The increase in manufacturing employment reflects growing demand for durable goods produced by Kentucky firms,” said Akers. “The continued steady manufacturing growth is a positive sign for the broader state economy.”

The trade, transportation and utilities sector jumped by 1,600 jobs in March 2017. This is the largest sector in Kentucky with more than 400,000 jobs accounting for one-fifth of all nonfarm employment. Since March 2016, this sector has surged by 7,100 jobs or 1.8 percent.

The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, rose by 1,800 jobs in March 2017, but has declined by 1,200 positions since last March.

The financial activities sector added 500 jobs in March 2017. Over the year, the sector has gained 2,100 jobs or 2.3 percent.

Information sector jobs increased by 200 in March 2017 and has risen by 1,300 jobs or 5.7 percent since March 2016. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Employment in the other services sector, which includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services, and religious organizations, increased by 100 positions in March 2017 compared to the month before, and gained 1,200 positions since March 2016.

The mining and logging sector gained 100 jobs in March 2017. The industry has declined by 1,300 positions from a year ago.

The leisure and hospitality sector decreased by 500 jobs in March 2017. Since March 2016, the sector has added 100 jobs. This sector includes arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector fell by 1,300 jobs in March 2017 from the month before but has added 6,800 since March 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.

The construction sector lost 2,000 jobs in March 2017. Since March 2016, this industry has added 2,900 jobs, growing by 3.8 percent.

The educational and health services sector also declined by 2,000 positions in March 2017, but had a gain of 2,200 jobs since March 2016.

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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