A new economic study released by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Thursday shows Kentucky’s statewide employment level, for the first time, is now back up above the pre-recession level.
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.
Overall, the study shows that Kentucky as a whole has added jobs at a rate of 7.5 percent, on par with the national average. The Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green-Hopkinsville areas had job growth rates above the national average and the Louisville, Bowling Green-Hopkinsville and northern Kentucky regions continued to add manufacturing jobs.
The largest rate of job growth statewide happened in just two Kentucky counties with forty-five percent of the growth coming from Jefferson and Fayette, according to Coomes. By the numbers, the greatest growth was in Bullitt County—on the south end of Louisville—as wage and salary job bases grew by 40 percent (from 15,900 to 22,300 jobs) over the last five years.
However, a few regions continued to struggle as the Paducah-Purchase area lost manufacturing jobs and the mountain region has seen fewer jobs over the last five years as the coal industry continues to decline with no replacement for those jobs.
The numbers, centered around nine economic regions in the state and conducted through analysis of county-level data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, show that in terms of wages and salaries, six of the regions grew by 20 percent or more while payrolls declined in the Mountain region by 10 percent.
All regions examined in the study, with the exception of northern Kentucky, 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.
Since the Kentucky Chamber last released a similar economic study by Coomes in December, the state has seen the following changes in employment growth:
- The Bowling Green-Hopkinsville regions saw an uptick in both manufacturing (going from 13.6% to 18.2%) and overall growth (an increase from 8.2% in the December numbers to 9.7%)
- The mountain region saw a small decrease in overall job growth but a 2.8% increase in the number of manufacturing jobs in the area
- The Cumberland area has seen a drop in manufacturing jobs as they now show a growth rate of 3.8% compared to the 7.1% growth shown in December
- The remaining regions remained relatively steady with only minor fluctuations
- Kentucky saw an overall increase of 1.9% in the new data when it comes to growth in all industries and a 2.1% uptick in manufacturing while national averages saw slight dips in the new numbers