A new economic study released by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce shows the state has seen job growth in many of the large areas of the state during 2014 while the rural regions continue to experience some economic struggle.
The study, conducted by Kentucky Chamber Senior Economic Advisor Dr. Paul Coomes, analyzes the latest data on job and payroll growth for nine economic regions in Kentucky since the national recession. A map of the regions examined in the study can be seen below:
Findings of the study include a statistic showing Kentucky has added jobs as a whole at a rate of 5.6 percent, a slower rate than the national average but surpassing the growth of many surrounding states.
But Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson said the study is meant to look deeper into the economic state of the commonwealth.
“There are very distinct regional economies in Kentucky. It is somewhat misleading to talk about a Kentucky economy because things can be so different within the regions and I think this report underscores that fact,” Adkisson said.
Coomes states the Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green-Hopkinsville regions had the highest growth rates in total jobs over the past five years, with forty-five percent of the growth statewide happening in just two Kentucky counties—Jefferson and Fayette.
Many of the new jobs created consist of manufacturing positions, according to Coomes. Those jobs were most prevalent in the Louisville, Northern Kentucky, and Bowling Green-Hopkinsville regions. (A chart of employment numbers for all regions can be seen below.)
However, the numbers are not all good. According to the study, fifty mostly rural counties saw a net loss of jobs over the past five years. The Mountain and Ashland areas have fewer jobs than they did five years ago while the Paducah-Purchase region has seen a loss of manufacturing jobs.
All but two regions examined in the study posted slower than average growth when it comes to average pay per job, while manufacturing salaries continue to be ahead of the U.S. averages in most of the state’s regions.
But Coomes says Kentucky still needs to diversify the types of jobs that are being created in order to stay on the right track.
“The main economic challenge for Kentucky has been to replace high paying manufacturing jobs that we are losing with high paying service jobs and we haven’t done as well as the national average, that’s for sure,” Coomes told reporters Monday.
As for the overall economic outlook seen in the report, Adkisson said there is good and bad news in a report like this but it is important to continue to look at the growth on a county-by-county basis in order to see what is going on in Kentucky and what is affecting families.