KY Policy Blog

Lack of Jobs and Wage Growth Still Hurts Kentuckians this Labor Day

By Anna Baumann
September 1, 2017

Labor Day is a good time to reflect on the state of working Kentucky. This year, as the economy continues a long recovery and state and federal decision makers debate policies that could impact progress, it is important to acknowledge we are not yet in a full employment economy that substantially improves Kentuckians’ standard of living.

We have a long way to go to full employment.

The most recent monthly jobs update from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows jobs are continuing to grow steadily in Kentucky as they read more

What Trump Budget Proposal Would Mean for Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
May 23, 2017

President Trump’s full budget proposal released today includes harsh, devastating cuts to critical poverty-reducing programs that provide health, nutrition and financial assistance to many Kentuckians. The budget also includes drastic cuts to federal grants to states that improve our economy and quality of life and provide needed assistance to Kentucky’s most vulnerable. The rural areas of our state, which continue to experience the greatest economic challenges, would be hit particularly hard.

Mandatory Federal Programs

President Trump’s budget proposal includes harmful cuts to so-called mandatory programs (meaning spending is determined by read more

Kentucky Moms Deserve Better

By Anna Baumann
May 12, 2017

More than 488,000 women in Kentucky are raising an estimated 919,711 children under the age of 18. These biological, step, adopted and foster moms, grandmothers and other relatives and their children would benefit from policies that better support employment, job quality and economic security for Kentucky women.

Supporting Pregnant and New Moms at Work

Pregnancy and childbirth are a normal part of life for women: national data show that more than four out of five become mothers. An estimated 55,759 Kentucky women gave birth over the last year, 63 percent read more

Job Recovery for Some Kentucky Counties, Second Recession for Others

By Jason Bailey
May 5, 2017

When the Great Recession came at the end of 2007, all of Kentucky lost jobs. The U.S. economy hit bottom a couple of years later before starting to improve. Now the nation’s lost jobs as a whole are restored and the economy is strengthening, with some arguing the country is at or near full employment.

But when you dig down to the local level, the picture becomes less rosy — as the map below shows.

In Kentucky from 2009 to 2017, 32 counties experienced modest to strong job growth, with read more

2017 Session a Step Backward for Kentucky Workers

By Anna Baumann
April 19, 2017

The 2017 General Assembly has ended, but the full impact on workers of several harmful bills passed during the session will play out for years to come.

In the very first week of session in January, the legislature passed “Right to Work” (RTW, HB 1), making Kentucky the 28th state with such a law. The evidence does not support backers’ claims that RTW leads to job growth. Instead, what RTW does is lower wages for all workers in states – by an estimated $1,558 a year in 2015 dollars – read more

Undocumented Immigrants Contribute $37 Million Toward Investments in Kentucky Each Year

By Anna Baumann
March 2, 2017

Undocumented immigrants living in Kentucky pay $36.6 million in state and local taxes each year, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. These substantial tax contributions should be acknowledged as lawmakers consider the economic and social impact of immigration policy and enforcement in the U.S. – including a recent executive order that expands the groups of immigrants prioritized for removal and a surge in deportations that involved 53 arrests in Kentucky, many of the detainees lacking criminal records and others with only minor offenses. read more

Too Many Kentuckians Remain Underemployed

By Jason Bailey
February 24, 2017

A close look at the employment level of Kentucky’s working age population shows more progress is needed to reach full economic recovery, as we recently noted. Another measure, called the underemployment rate, also shows there remain many Kentuckians who want more work than they are able to find.

Three groups of people make up the underemployment rate. The first is those classified as unemployed, meaning they are without a job but have looked for work in the past four weeks. The second group consists of “marginally attached workers,” meaning individuals read more

Many Kentuckians Work in Bad Jobs

By Jason Bailey
February 17, 2017

Anecdotal claims are often made that many good jobs are available across the state but Kentucky lacks a workforce skilled and responsible enough to fill those jobs. But the fact is our economy is comprised of many jobs that offer low wages and have few skill requirements — jobs that Kentuckians are working every day.

The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet released its updated occupational outlook report for the years 2014 to 2024 last summer, and recently created a new interactive tool to share related data. Rather than lots of read more

Not Yet to Full Economic Recovery

By Jason Bailey
February 13, 2017

The economy as a whole has been slowly improving and Kentucky’s unemployment rate has fallen from 10.9 percent in June 2009 to 4.8 percent now — the lowest rate since 2001. While the low unemployment rate suggests an economy almost fully recovered, another measure of employment shows Kentucky still has a ways to go.

The unemployment rate only counts people who have sought work in the last four weeks – not the individuals who, because of the depth of the job losses in the Great Recession and a slow and read more

Low Wages at Bottom Demonstrate Need for Policies that Boost Earnings

By Jason Bailey
February 8, 2017

Following meaningful wage growth in 2015, real wages dropped slightly for Kentucky workers in 2016 and are still below where they were back in 2001. With wages low for a broad swath of the workforce, the state needs policies that would lift earnings in order to boost local economies and ensure more families can make ends meet.

Workers at the 30th percentile of hourly wages in Kentucky (meaning 30 percent of workers make less and 70 percent make more) earned only $12.01 an hour in 2016, according to Current Population read more