Economic progress and concerns persist as Kentucky closes out 2021, new report shows

A full return to a pre-pandemic economy remains elusive, as the Kentucky Chamber’s new quarterly economic report paints a complex picture of Kentucky’s economy with a mixture of good news and bad news.  

Kentucky’s economy “continues to make steady progress toward a recovery from the pandemic, but it is becoming increasingly clear that a full return to ‘normal’ is unlikely to happen anytime soon,” writes Kentucky Chamber President & CEO Ashli Watts. 

Produced in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research, this new report marks the fourth quarterly update from the Chamber in 2021. The reports are designed to provide business leaders and policymakers with reliable snapshots of the progress of Kentucky’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key conclusions from the new report include:

  • While workers are slowly returning to the labor force, they are not returning quickly enough to fill the job openings available.
  • Kentucky’s employers added 21,500 jobs to their payrolls from June to October. 
  • Job turnover is high as workers see opportunities to find higher paying jobs.
  • Kentucky has recovered or replaced 76% of the jobs lost during the pandemic.

“When the pandemic began, economists discussed what the recovery might look like. The most common opinion seemed to be that if new restrictions were not needed to slow the spread of COVID, the recovery could resemble the Nike swoosh. That is, the economy would recover rapidly at first as businesses reopened but the recovery would slow over time,” writes the report’s author Professor Michael Clark, Director of the Center Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky. “So far, both the national and Kentucky economies have followed this pattern. Much of the recovery has already occurred. Output and employment continue to improve but at slower paces. Supply chain constraints, scarcity of workers, and higher inflation rates remain concerns.”

The previous three editions of the Chamber’s quarterly economic update reports can be viewed on the Chamber’s website.

Click here to download the report

About the Author

Charles Aull
Senior Policy Analyst at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

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