Kentucky gained 500 jobs in 2010, the first increase in annual employment in three years, state officials announced Monday.
For the year, the state's unemployment rate fell to 10.5 percent, from 10.7 percent in 2009.
"Kentucky's economy stabilized in 2010 ... however, the economic recovery and job growth have been painstakingly slow," said Justine Detzel, chief labor market analyst for the state Office of Employment and Training.
The state continued to outpace the nation's 2010 unemployment rate of 9.6 percent.
Kentucky had the ninth-highest annual unemployment rate among the states and Washington D.C. The lowest rate was in North Dakota, where it was 3.9 percent. The highest was 14.9 percent in Nevada, which has been ravaged by real estate problems.
Kentucky was one of 16 states plus Washington that outpaced the nation's annual jobless rate; 32 were below it, and two were the same.
Jobs in the state, excluding agricultural jobs and the self-employed, totaled 1,769,800 in 2010.
Four of the state's 11 major job sectors saw growth, with the highest coming in professional and business services, which added 8,600 jobs in the year.
Detzel attributed the gains, which included 8,500 jobs in the employment services industry, to administrative and support and waste management businesses.
"Since the temporary help industry supplies labor to a wide variety of industries, it is a good barometer of what is occurring across the labor market," Detzel said in a statement.
The government sector added 6,900 jobs, with 3,500 coming in state government as employment was added due to enrollment growth at universities.
The other sectors with growth were educational and health services (3,100) and other services (400).
Leading in job losses was the construction industry, which shed 6,200 positions.
"The maladies in the housing market and tighter credit delaying construction projects factored into the job losses," Detzel said in a statement, adding "the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit is crimping the residential construction industry."
The manufacturing sector fell by 3,900 jobs, the 10th straight year it has seen declines. The amount of decline, though, was the lowest since 2006, Detzel said.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 3,700 jobs, as companies closed underperforming stores. The state does not identify individual companies in releasing unemployment data.
Other sectors losing jobs were financial activities (2,300), mining and logging (1,400), information (1,000), and leisure and hospitality (200).
Due to rounding, the sectors' job losses and growth don't total 500 jobs, but that was the overall gain for the year, state officials said.