Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet releases January 2019 unemployment report

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 7, 2019) — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary January 2019 unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. The unemployment rate for January 2019 was down from the 4.3 percent reported for December 2018.

The preliminary January 2019 jobless rate was down 0.1 percentage points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state in January 2018.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for January 2019 was 4.0 percent, up 0.1 percentage points from its December 2018 level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based on estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working. It includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

Kentucky civilian labor force increased by 858 individuals in January 2019, bringing the state’s labor force to 2,063,497. The number of people employed in January was up by 2,787, while the number unemployed decreased by 1,929.

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 increased by 6,900 jobs in January 2019 compared to December 2018. Kentucky has added 22,700 jobs since January 2018, a 1.2 percent employment growth.

“Both surveys point to higher employment in January,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Associate Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “In spite of uncertainty associated with trade and monetary policy at the national level, Kentucky employers have continued to expand their payrolls.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to this survey, seven of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors saw employment increases from the previous month while two  declined and two were unchanged.

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 3,300 jobs from December 2018 to January 2019, an increase of 1.7 percent. This sector is up 3,700 jobs since January 2018. The accommodations and food services subsector gained 2,700 jobs, while the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector added 600 positions in January.

“The addition of 2,700 jobs in accommodations and food services accounted for a significant portion of the state’s employment in January and was much higher than this subsector typically sees during a month,” said Clark. “The BLS often revises these estimates as more information becomes available. It will be important to watch this figure to determine whether it represents a permanent increase.”

Trade, transportation and utilities sector increased by 1,800 jobs in January 2019. Since January 2018, employment in this sector rose by 3,900 positions or 1 percent. Wholesale trade lost 200 positions while retail trade declined by 300 jobs in January 2019. Transportation, warehousing and utilities gained 2,300 jobs in January 2019.

The financial activities sector added 1,000 jobs from December 2018 to January 2019. This sector rose by 900 jobs compared to last January, a gain of 1 percent.

Employment grew by 800 jobs in the other services sector from December 2018 to January 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations. Employment in this sector is up 1,300 jobs since January 2018.

Employment in the educational and health services sector expanded by 800 jobs in January 2019, a gain of 0.3 percent. Employment was up by 600 positions in the health care and social assistance subsector and 200 positions in the educational services subsector. Since last January, the sector has increased by 8,600 positions or 3.1 percent.

Construction employment increased by 600 jobs in January or 0.8 percent. The construction sector is up 2,600 jobs during the past 12 months for a gain of 3.4 percent.

The government sector recorded 200 additional jobs in January. Federal government positions decreased by 200, state government added 600 positions; and local government fell by 200 jobs. Total government employment has increased by 100 jobs since January 2018.

Employment in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector was unchanged in January, but up by 800 positions for the year, a gain of 8.4 percent.

“Revised estimates suggest that mining and logging employment improved last year,” said Clark. “This may not reflect a long-term trend for the coming year, however, as employment in this sector has been fairly stable for the past few months.”

Employment in information services was also unchanged in January 2019. Employment in this sector is down 500 jobs since January 2018, a loss of 2.3 percent. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.

Professional and business services sector fell by 700 jobs in January 2019 for a loss of 0.3 percent. The job losses occurred in the administrative and support and waste management subsector, which declined by 800 positions in January. The professional, scientific and technical services subsector rose by 100 jobs. This sector is down 1,000 jobs since January 2018.

Kentucky’s manufacturing sector dropped by 900 jobs from December 2018 to January 2019, a loss of 0.4 percent. Employment decreased by 500 jobs in durable goods manufacturing and by 400 jobs in non-durable goods manufacturing. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment is up by 2,300 jobs since January 2018.

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, because of the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at