EDITOR'S NOTE: Links to the employment chart, the unemployment rate chart and COVID-19 statement are below.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 20, 2021) - Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary April 2021 unemployment rate was 4.7%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).
The preliminary April 2021 jobless rate was down 0.3 percentage points from March 2021 and down 12.2 percentage points from the 16.9% recorded for the state one year ago when the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 had the largest impact on the state’s economy.
The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for April 2021 was 6.1%, up from the 6% reported in March 2021, 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 1,989,946 in April 2021, a decrease of 796 individuals from March 2021. The number of people employed in April increased by 4,809 to 1,895,930 while the number unemployed decreased by 5,605 to 94,016.
“Kentucky’s unemployment rate improved in April as people are continuing to find jobs,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D.
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 declined by 2,200 jobs in April 2021 compared to March 2021. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 196,800 jobs or 11.8% compared to April 2020, which represents the lowest employment levels during the pandemic.
“The decline in payroll employment from March 2021 to April 2021 provides an indication of the challenges businesses still face as the economy recovers,” said Clark. “While restrictions are being eased, businesses across the nation are wrestling with changing consumer spending patterns and supply change disruptions in the wake of the pandemic. Many manufacturing firms have experienced challenges acquiring key inputs such as semiconductor chips. As a result, they have not been able to ramp up production and employment as quickly as they might have otherwise.”
Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for three of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in April 2021, while eight declined. All sectors except for government showed higher employment compared to one year ago.
The government sector added 2,500 positions from March 2021 to April 2021. Federal government employment was down 100 jobs, while state government decreased by 400 jobs. Local government employment jumped 3,000 positions. Total government employment was down 500 positions or 0.2% compared to April 2020.
Kentucky’s construction sector jumped 1,900 jobs in April 2021, a 2.4% increase from March. The construction sector was up 5,900 positions or 8% from one year ago.
“Construction employment picked up in April as home builders responded to the strong demand for new homes and rising housing prices,” said Clark.
Employment in the other services sector was up 200 jobs in April 2021 and up 9,700 positions since April 2020. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.
Jobs in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector declined by 100 jobs in April and was up 700 jobs or 10.8% from a year ago.
Kentucky’s educational and health services sector declined by 100 jobs in April 2021. The educational services subsector fell by 100 positions. Employment in the health care and social assistance subsector did not change from March to April. Since last April, the sector has increased by 24,500 jobs or 9.8%.
Information services sector jobs fell by 300 from March to April. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. Jobs in this sector were up 400 positions or 2.1% from a year ago.
The professional and business services sector decreased by 1,000 jobs or 0.5% in April 2021. The administrative and support and waste management subsector lost 1,400 positions while the professional, scientific and technical services subsector gained 400 positions. The management of companies subsector was unchanged in April. Employment in this sector was up 24,300 or 12.9% since April 2020.
The financial activities sector declined by 1,000 positions in April 2021. The finance and insurance subsector had 700 fewer jobs from March 2021 to April 2021, while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector reported 300 fewer jobs. The sector has expanded by 4,400 jobs or 4.9% from last April.
Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector lost 1,000 positions from March 2021 to April 2021, a decrease of 0.6%. This sector was up 52,500 jobs or 46.7% compared to April 2020. The accommodations and food services subsector added 300 jobs in April while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector lost 1,300 positions.
The trade, transportation and utilities sector declined by 1,600 positions from March 2021 to April 2021. Retail trade employment lost 100 positions in April; transportation, warehousing and utilities fell by 1,300 jobs; and wholesale trade lost 200 positions. Since April 2020, employment in this sector has increased by 38,100 jobs or 10.4%.
Employment at Kentucky’s manufacturers was down 1,700 jobs or 0.7% from March 2021 to April 2021. The durable goods subsector lost 2,000 jobs in April 2021 while non-durable goods added 300 jobs. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was up 36,800 positions or 18% since April 2020.
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 https://kystats.ky.gov/KYLMI.