Kentucky's unemployment rate continued its descent in March, dropping to 8.6 percent from 8.7 percent in February.
"All signs are pointing to the likelihood that the recovery is here to stay," state economist Manoj Shanker said in a statement. "With eight months of declining unemployment rate and steady growth in employment, job prospects in Kentucky are definitely improving."
While it's improving, the state's unemployment rate continued to lag behind the national rate, which fell to 8.2 percent in March from 8.3 percent in February, according to data provided by the state Office of Employment and Training.
Six of the state's 11 major economic sectors reported employment increases in March with the state adding 3,200 non-farm jobs during the month.
Leading the growth were the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which added 1,900 jobs, and the leisure and hospitality sector, which grew by 1,800 positions. The latter's growth came primarily from retail stores and restaurants, Shanker said.
"As employment picks up across the economy and there is an uptick in consumer confidence, people are more willing to spend money in both shops and restaurants, resulting in added hiring," he said.
The financial activities sector added 900 jobs, while the educational and health services sector rose by 600 positions.
March's growth of 500 jobs in the professional and business services sector also indicated it's no longer just temporary worker agencies that are boosting the sector's growth, Shanker noted.
"Now with the economy on track for a full recovery, there has been a surge in professional services jobs like legal services, accounting and engineering," Shanker said.
Also adding employees in March was the information sector, which grew by 300 jobs.
Leading the sectors losing jobs in March was the manufacturing sector, which shed 1,300 positions, though Shanker noted it's not as dire as it seems. He said the job losses are concentrated in functions like payroll and legal services that manufacturers are contracting out to other companies to reduce costs.
"The jobs are still there," Shanker said. "They are merely being performed in another sector of the economy."
Other sectors seeing job losses were construction (600), government (500) and other services, which includes repair companies and religious organizations (400).
The mining and logging sector saw employment remain steady.