State's 2009 jobless rate was its worst since 1983

Kentucky's annual unemployment rate in 2009 reached 10.5 percent, the highest rate since 1983, when it was 11.3 percent, state officials announced Thursday. The rate rose nearly 4 percentage points from 6.6 percent in 2008.

"Kentucky's economy suffered under the weight of the recession in 2009," said Justine Detzel, chief labor market analyst for the state Office of Employment and Training.

The state also outpaced the nation's 2009 unemployment rate, which was 9.3 percent, up from 5.8 percent in 2008. It was the nation's highest unemployment rate since 1983, too, when it was 9.6 percent.

Every state in the country saw higher unemployment rates in 2009 than in 2008, a state news release said.

Kentucky tied with Florida and Tennessee for the eighth-highest unemployment rates among states and the District of Columbia in 2009. The lowest rate was in North Dakota, where it was 4.3 percent. The highest was 13.6 percent in automotive center Michigan.

Kentucky was one of 16 states plus Washington, D.C., that outpaced the nation's annual jobless rate; 33 others were below it. Missouri tied the rate.

Kentucky lost 82,200 jobs during the year, reducing non-farm payroll, which excludes agricultural jobs and the self-employed, to 1,769,500. That's the lowest number since 1998.

Detzel said there was "a little bit of moderation" near the end of the year, though.

"It seemed that we're approaching that trough at the bottom," she said, and she hopes that "sometime in 2010, we're going to see the unemployment rate go down."

She said that typically, unemployment rates go up as recessions end because people who have been out of work for long periods re-enter the labor force and look for jobs. That again makes them part of jobless rate statistics, which exclude people who have not actively searched for work in the previous four weeks.

The only economic sectors to see job growth in Kentucky in 2009 were the educational and health services industries, which gained 2,600 jobs, and the government sector, which jumped by 1,200 jobs.

Jobs in the mining and logging industry remained the same year over year, but the other eight major job sectors saw losses.

Driving the losses has been manufacturing, which lost 31,900 jobs in 2009 to end the year at 213,200.

"This is the ninth straight year the manufacturing sector has experienced employment losses," Detzel said in a statement.

In the past decade, manufacturing has declined by 95,800 jobs in the state.

"Nearly all manufacturers were hit by a constricting economy," Detzel said.