Ky. jobless rate up to 10.3 percent

Kentucky's unemployment rate rose to 10.3 percent in December from 10.2 percent in November. The slight increase came as cold weather caused construction jobs to plummet.

Overall employment numbers fell for the second straight month, reversing job growth in September and October.

The December jobless rate is down from 10.6 percent in December 2009. Since February 2009, the rate has been below 10 percent just once — July 2010. The state's unemployment rate in December 2010 continued to outpace the national rate of 9.4 percent, which declined from 9.8 percent in November.

For the month, Kentucky's net loss was 2,800 jobs with six of the 11 major industries tracked showing employment decreases.

The largest drop was the construction sector, which shed 3,800 positions.

"The expiration of the federal home buyer tax credit is crimping the residential construction industry," said Justine Detzel, chief labor market analyst for the state Office of Employment and Training. "In addition, extremely cold and wintry weather, with snow and ice mixes, curtailed construction projects and work by specialty trade contractors."

The leisure and hospitality sector saw employment drop by 1,500 positions, while the financial activities sector lost 1,100 jobs.

The latter's losses provide "additional evidence of the slowdown in the housing market," said Detzel in a statement.

Other sectors showing declines were educational and health services (600), government (400), and mining and logging (300).

Leading the growth sectors was professional and business services with 2,700 jobs gained. "The job gains are attributed to administrative and support enterprises, which is a sign of temporary jobs at call centers," Detzel said.

The other services sector, which includes religious organizations and repair companies, saw employment jump by 1,100 jobs, while the trade, transportation and utilities sector gained 500 jobs.

The manufacturing sector added 400 jobs that were linked to openings and expansions at automotive plants, Detzel said. The state does not identify individual businesses in releasing unemployment data.

The information sector also added 200 positions.