Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Releases December 2023 Unemployment Report

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 18, 2024) — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary December 2023 unemployment rate was 4.3%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet.

The preliminary December 2023 jobless rate was unchanged from November 2023 and was up 0.4 percentage point from one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for December 2023 was 3.7%, which was also unchanged from November 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based upon estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working and includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,032,992 in December 2023, a decrease of 3,650 individuals from November 2023. The number of people employed in December fell by 4,058 to 1,945,311 while the number unemployed increased by 408 to 87,681.

“The December number indicates that there was a slight increase in the number of people unemployed and a slight decrease in the labor force,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “However, these changes were not large enough to change the state’s unemployment rate, which held steady at 4.3%.”

In a separate federal survey of business establishments that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment decreased by 4,600 jobs to 2,022,300 in December 2023 compared to November 2023. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 46,700 jobs or 2.4% compared to December 2022.

“Kentucky’s payroll employment decreased in the final two months of 2023,” said Clark. “Despite these late losses, Kentucky’s economy ended 2023 with 46,700 more jobs than at the end of 2022.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for five of Kentucky’s major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in December 2023, decreased for five, and was unchanged for one.

Employment in the government sector increased by 1,500 from November 2023 to December 2023. The number of jobs was unchanged in federal government; increased by 1,300 in state government; and increased by 200 in local government. The total number of government jobs rose by 9,700 positions or 3.2% compared to December 2022.

Employment in the other services sector was up by 800 jobs from November to December. This sector had 2,300 more positions in December 2023 compared to December 2022. This sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector rose by 100 jobs from November 2023 to December 2023. The durable goods manufacturing subsector grew by 1,200 jobs, but most of these gains were offset by a loss of 1,100 jobs in the non-durable goods subsector. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was up 2,600 positions or 1% compared to December 2022.

The number of jobs in the state’s mining and logging sector was up 100 from November to December. This sector had 300 more jobs compared to December 2022.

Kentucky’s financial activities sector added 100 jobs from November 2023 to December 2023 but was down 2,800 jobs from December 2022. Employment was down 200 jobs in the finance and insurance subsector from November to December but was up 300 jobs in the real estate, rental and leasing subsector.

Employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector was unchanged from November to December but was up 3,500 jobs or 0.8% compared to a year ago. The wholesale trade subsector lost 700 jobs. These losses were more than offset by a gain of 1,000 jobs in the retail trade subsector. The transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector lost 300 jobs.

Employment in Kentucky’s information services sector fell by 300 jobs from November to December. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. The number of jobs this sector was down 400 from one year ago.

The leisure and hospitality sector declined by 500 positions from November 2023 to December 2023, representing a loss of 0.2%. This sector reported 2,600 more jobs in December than one year ago. The accommodations and food services subsector was down by 500 jobs in December. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector did not change from November to December.

Construction employment fell by 1,700 jobs or 1.8% from November to December 2023, and was up 10,100 positions or 12.2% from one year ago.

“After posting substantial growth for most of the year, construction companies reported lower employment in the final two months of the year,” said Clark. “While the decline does indicate there were fewer construction jobs, construction employment is somewhat volatile as it is dependent on factors such as weather.”

The educational and health services sector contracted by 1,800 positions in December 2023. Employment in the health care and social assistance subsector decreased by 700 jobs from November to December. The educational services subsector fell by 1,100 jobs. Since last December, this sector has grown by 14,400 jobs or 4.9%.

Kentucky’s professional and business services sector fell by 2,900 jobs or 1.3% in December 2023. From November to December, employment decreased by 700 jobs in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector; was unchanged in the management of companies subsector; and decreased by 2,200 jobs in the administrative, support and waste management subsector. The sector has increased by 4,400 jobs or 2% since December 2022.

“Reduced payrolls in the professional and business services accounted for most of Kentucky’s job losses in December,” said Clark. “This decrease might reflect firms adjusting their level of temporary workers as the national economy cools.”

Civilian labor force statistics include nonmilitary workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks.

Kentucky’s statewide unemployment rate and employment levels are seasonally adjusted. Employment statistics undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal events, such as weather changes, harvests, holidays, and school openings and closings. Seasonal adjustments eliminate these influences and make it easier to observe statistical trends. However, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Visit the Kentucky Center for Statistics website to learn more about Kentucky labor market information. 

Follow the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates from the cabinet.

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