Kentucky’s suffering workforce is reflecting on the business community. Recently, Kentucky ranked 35 of 50 for the Best States for Business list, released by Forbes. Labor supply was Kentucky’s lowest ranking category at 48 of the 50 states.
Kentucky’s low workforce participation rate was the focus of a report released by the Kentucky Chamber in May. Kentucky’s workforce participation is currently at 57.6%. Looking at this data, Kentucky would need to add approximately 165,000 people to the workforce to reach the national average participation rate of 62.7%.
Though the Commonwealth ranked relatively high on the cost of doing business (#10) and quality of life (#22), it did not fare as well in other categories. Kentucky was ranked #31 for regulatory environment, #36 for economic climate, and #38 for growth prospects.
Currently 15% of American men (one in seven) between the ages of 25 and 54 are not working. The Chamber report takes a close look at the various factors that affect our state’s workforce participation, which has been steadily declining in recent years. These factors include incarceration, disability, drug and alcohol abuse, and demographics such as educational attainment, poverty, and health status.
North Carolina was ranked #1 citing the state has built one of the country’s strongest business climates over the past two decades, fueled by low business costs, incentives and a young, educated workforce, many of whom have been trained at the strong universities in the state.
The Kentucky Chamber is focused on several policy objectives to address the workforce shortage problems—including incorporating essential skills in the education accountability system, criminal justice reforms, and modernization of the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance systems.