Ky. jobless rate falls to 8.3%

ssloan@herald-leader.comMay 17, 2012 

Kentucky's unemployment rate continued its descent in April, dropping to 8.3 percent from 8.6 percent in March. It marked the lowest unemployment rate since November 2008.

While it's improving, the state's unemployment rate continued to lag the national rate, which fell to 8.1 percent in April from 8.2 percent in March, according to data provided by the state Office of Employment and Training.

During the month, the state's civilian labor force decreased slightly.

State economist Manoj Shanker said in a statement that people might presume the drop came because of discouraged out-of-work people no longer applying for jobs, which would remove them from being counted as part of the labor force. But he has a different explanation.

"Demographic evidence shows that the number of baby boomers retiring is higher than the number of young workers entering the labor force," Shanker said.

During April, six of the state's 11 major economic sectors reported employment increases, with the state adding 1,900 non-farm jobs during the month.

Leading the growth was the manufacturing sector, which added 3,200 jobs in its largest month-to-month increase in two years.

"The increased hiring shows that businesses are confident about the domestic recovery, even as manufacturing exports to key European and Japanese markets are declining," Shanker noted.

The professional and business services sector added 2,300 jobs, as "employment in temporary help agencies and technical services has surged as businesses start hiring to meet increased demand for both goods and services," Shanker said in the report.

The educational and health ser vices sector grew by 900 jobs, while the other services sector, which includes repair businesses and religious organizations, increased by 800 positions.

Other sectors seeing increases in jobs were financial activities (400) and information (100).

Leading the job losses for the month were the construction sector, which shed 2,400 positions, and the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 2,200 workers.

But Shanker said it's possible the methodology of adjusting for seasonal positions might have contributed to the job losses.

"A relatively warm winter disrupted the 'typical' seasonal factors, causing a seemingly greater increase in employment in early winter and lower employment in spring," he said.

Other sectors seeing decreases in employment were government (500); trade, transportation and utilities (500); and mining and logging (200).

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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