Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Releases December 2020 Unemployment Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Links to the employment chart, the unemployment rate chart and COVID-19 statement are below.



FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2021) - Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary December 2020 unemployment rate was 6 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).


The preliminary December 2020 jobless rate was up 0.3 percentage points from November 2020 and up 1.7 percentage points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state one year ago.


The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for December 2020 was 6.7 percent, unchanged from November 2020, 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 2,017,235 in December 2020, a decrease of 1,067 individuals from November 2020. The number of people employed in December fell by 6,835, while the number unemployed rose by 5,768.


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 dropped by 9,100 jobs in December 2020 compared to November 2020. Kentucky’s employment was down 100,900 jobs or 5.2 percent compared to December 2019.


“Most of December’s employment decline was in accommodations and food service businesses, which operated under additional restrictions to help slow rising COVID-19 rates during the week December employment data was collected,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D.


“While total employment was down, there were several bright spots in the jobs data. Employment in construction remains up compared to last year due to strong demand for housing; manufacturing employment has gained momentum over the past couple of months; and some of Kentucky’s sectors are finally showing employment growth over last year including retail trade, and arts, entertainment, and recreation,” he said.


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 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in December 2020 while five declined and one was unchanged.


The trade, transportation and utilities sector rose by 6,400 jobs in December 2020 or 1.6 percent. Employment in retail trade jumped by 4,200 jobs in December. Transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector posted an additional 2,100 positions. The wholesale trade subsector added 100 jobs from November to December. Since December 2019, employment in this sector was down 1,400 positions or 0.4 percent.


“Retail trade showed strong growth in December as consumers returned to stores for holiday shopping,” said Clark. “While retailers have not quite reached the employment levels just before the pandemic, December’s retail employment was higher than December 2019.”


Kentucky’s manufacturers added 3,000 positions from November 2020 to December 2020 or 1.2 percent. Employment was up 1,600 jobs among durable goods manufacturers and up 1,400 jobs for non-durable goods manufacturers. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was down 7,300 jobs, or 2.9 percent, since December 2019.


Employment in Kentucky’s educational and health services sector increased by 1,800 jobs in December 2020. Employment in the educational services subsector contracted by 1,800 positions. The health care and social assistance subsector gained 3,600 positions in December. Since last December, the sector was down 11,300 positions or 4 percent.


Kentucky’s construction sector rose by 600 jobs in December 2020, a 0.7 percent increase from November. The construction sector was up 2,400 jobs or 3 percent from one year ago.


Kentucky’s mining and logging sector added 200 jobs from November 2020 to December 2020 and was down 1,500 jobs or 16.5 percent from a year ago.


Employment in the information services sector did not change from November to December. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. This sector was down 3,400 jobs or 16.1 percent from a year ago.


The financial activities sector lost 100 positions in December 2020. The finance and insurance subsector reported 200 fewer jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector added 100 jobs from November 2020 to December 2020. The sector lost 4,000 positions compared to last December or 4.3 percent.


Employment in the other services sector fell by 1,300 jobs in December. This sector was down 100 positions since December 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.


The professional and business services sector dropped by 2,100 jobs or 1.1 percent in December 2020. The administrative and support and waste management subsector fell by 1,600 positions. The management of companies subsector declined by 100 jobs. Employment in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector was down 400 jobs. Employment in this sector was down 21,900 or 10.2 percent since December 2019.


The government sector reduced payrolls by 5,800 jobs from November 2020 to December 2020. While federal government employment was unchanged from November to December, state government employment was down 3,100 jobs and local government employment dropped by 2,700 jobs. Total government employment was down 26,100 positions or 8.4 percent since December 2019.


Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector fell by 11,800 positions from November 2020 to December 2020 for a decrease of 6.2 percent. This sector contracted by 26,300 jobs or 12.8 percent compared to December 2019. The accommodations and food services subsector reduced payrolls by 12,700 positions during December while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector added 900 positions.


“Cold weather and restrictions on indoor dining to help slow rising COVID-19 cases reduced capacity and contributed to lower employment at Kentucky’s restaurants and drinking places in December,” said Clark.


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.


To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit http://kystats.ky.gov/KYLMI.



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