FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 21, 2020) — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary April 2020 unemployment rate was 15.4 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).
The preliminary April 2020 jobless rate was up 10.2 percentage points from March 2020 and up 11.1 percentage points from the 4.3 percent recorded for the state in April 2019. The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for April 2020 was 14.7 percent, up from 4.4 percent in March 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based upon estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working, and includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.
Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,060,553 in April 2020, a decrease of 5,722 individuals from March 2020. The number of people employed in April fell by 216,043, while the number unemployed increased by 210,321.
“The April employment estimates provide a clearer indication of the economic losses associated with slowing the spread of coronavirus,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Interim Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. “The number of people employed in Kentucky decreased by 11 percent, compared to a 14.4 percent reduction nationally. Still, these decreases in employment do not reflect the full cost to workers as many who were on temporarily layoff were classified as employed. The estimates also do not reflect workers who experienced reduced hours or wages.”
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 decreased by 289,600 jobs, or 15 percent, in April 2020 compared to March 2020. Kentucky’s employment was down 299,900 jobs relative to April 2019, or 15.5 percent.
“Restrictions to prevent spreading COVID-19, reduced demand for goods and services, and general uncertainty about the economy have contributed to Kentucky firms cutting their payrolls by 15 percent,” said Clark. “Declines in Kentucky’s payroll employment were higher than the 13.5 reduction for the nation. While Kentucky’s employment declined in all sectors, losses were concentrated in sectors that were subject to restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus such as leisure and hospitality and retail trade.”
Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, all of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors reduced employment in April.
Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector shed 82,100 positions in April, a decline of 42.2 percent. This sector was down 89,600 positions since April 2019. The accommodations and food services subsector lost 69,700 jobs from March to April. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector decreased by 12,400 jobs.
Kentucky’s manufacturing employment declined by 54,500 positions from March 2020 to April 2020, or 21.7 percent. Employment in durable goods manufacturing decreased by 48,500 jobs, while non-durable manufacturers decreased by 6,000 jobs in April. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment decreased by 55,500 jobs since April 2019.
“Many of the jobs losses in manufacturing are likely due to firms temporarily shuting down plants to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Clark. “However, some of Kentucky’s manufacturers are experiencing reductions in demand for their products and uncertainty over when demand might recover.”
Kentucky’s trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 42,300 jobs in April 2020, a decrease of 10.7 percent. Wholesale trade declined by 4,500 jobs; retail trade decreased 28,000 jobs; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities decreased by 9,800 jobs. Since April 2019, employment in this sector has decreased by 49,400 positions or 12.2 percent.
Employment in Kentucky’s educational and health services sector decreased by 35,400 jobs in April 2020. The educational services subsector was down 3,100 jobs in April 2020. Health care and social assistance subsector declined by 32,300 positions from March to April. Since last April, the sector has fallen by 31,800 positions or 11.3 percent.
“While the health care sector typically performs relatively well during economic downturns, shortages of personal protective equipment and restrictions on elective procedures have contributed to fewer services being provided and a 12.5 percent decline in health care employment,” noted Clark. “National health care employment experienced similar decreases, with most of the losses being concentrated in offices of physicians, dentitsts, and other health care practitioners.”
The professional and business services sector declined by 35,300 jobs or 16.1 percent in April 2020. The administration and support and waste management subsector lost 24,300 positions; the professional, scientific and technical services subsector lost 10,600 positions; and the management of companies subsector lost 400 positions. This sector was down 30,800 jobs since April 2019.
Total employment in the government sector fell by 16,000 jobs from March 2020 to April 2020. Federal government employment decreased by 200 jobs; state government employment decreased by 5,200 jobs; and local government employment decreased by 10,600 jobs. Total government employment has declined by 16,100 jobs since April 2019.
Employment decreased by 11,800 jobs in the other services sector from March 2020 to April 2020. This sector was down by 10,100 positions since April 2019. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.
Employment in Kentucky’s construction sector was down 6,600 jobs in April 2020. This represents a decline of 8.3 percent. The construction sector was down 6,500 jobs, or 8.1 percent, from one year ago.
Employment in the information services sector fell by 1,900 jobs in April 2020. This sector was down 3,300 positions from a year ago. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications.
Kentucky’s mining and logging sector fell by 1,900 jobs from March 2020 to April 2020, and was down 4,400 jobs, or 41.9 percent, from a year ago.
The financial activities sector lost 1,800 jobs in April 2020. The finance and insurance subsector was down 1,300 jobs while the real estate, rental and leasing subsector was down 500 jobs from March to April. The sector was down 2,400 jobs compared to last April.
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, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.
To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit http://kystats.ky.gov/KYLMI.
Additional information is available on the Education & Workforce Development Cabinet website.