Kentucky added 28,800 jobs in 2012, as the state continued to recover from the recession, officials announced Friday. For the year, the state's unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent from 9.5 percent in 2011.
That remained worse than the nation's unemployment rate, which was 8.1 percent, down from 8.9 percent in 2011.
Kentucky had the 19th-highest annual unemployment rate among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in 2012. The lowest rate was in North Dakota, where it was 3.1 percent. The highest was 11.1 percent in Nevada, which has been ravaged by real estate problems.
"We're doing better than we were the year before, and it's a steady improvement," said Manoj Shanker, an economist with the state Office of Employment and Training. "That's really reassuring, because it means businesses are cautious, and they're gauging what's happening."
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Seven of the state's 11 major job sectors saw growth during the year. The most growth was in manufacturing, which added 10,600 jobs in 2012.
That's the second straight year of growth for the sector, which had previously seen job declines for a decade. Much of the improvement in 2012 centered on the automotive industry, Shanker said.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 5,100 jobs, with some of the strongest growth coming in warehousing and storage, particularly those that ship goods directly to online customers, Shanker said.
The professional and business services sector gained 4,800 jobs, and the state's leisure and hospitality sector added 4,500 positions.
Other sectors showing job growth were educational and health services (2,900), government (2,600) and financial activities (1,800).
The largest employment declines came in the mining and logging sector, which shed 2,200 positions. Shanker attributed the declines to increased competition from the natural gas industry, and to low-cost coal mined in the western United States.
The information sector shed 500 jobs, and the other services sector, which includes repair businesses and religious organizations, saw a decline of 400 jobs.
The construction sector saw employment dip by 300 positions in 2012.