KY Policy Blog

Don’t Trust the Unemployment Rate: Coal Counties Edition

By Jason Bailey
August 24, 2015

Kentucky is celebrating its drop in unemployment rate, which at 5.2 percent as of July is hovering at a level not seen since 2004.

But since the unemployment rate doesn’t count as unemployed those who aren’t currently seeking work, it overstates how good things are. This problem can be seen by looking at Kentucky’s coal counties, which have had among the state’s biggest declines in unemployment rates the last two years, even while facing a major economic crisis in the loss of coal jobs.

As seen in the table below, read more

Busting a Right-to-Work Myth: Why Unions Need to Cover ‘Free Riders’ in RTW States

By Anna Baumann
June 11, 2015

Despite misleading explanations from “right-to-work” (RTW) advocates, the point of such laws is straightforward: weaken workers’ ability to band together through unions for better job conditions and pay. The law does so by creating “free riders” who benefit from union representation but don’t pay toward the associated costs, leaving unions with less money to negotiate better contracts and represent workers in grievances against employers.

(See here for more on what RTW does and does not do. For instance, it does not grow jobs.)

In order to play down the financial read more

Agenda to Reduce Taxes and Workers’ Rights No Path to Prosperity

By Jason Bailey
August 6, 2012

Hardly a month goes by without the release of another index supposedly ranking states on their economic competitiveness. One prominent such report comes from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial national corporate lobbying organization. But a new analysis by a University of Iowa economist shows that ALEC’s prescription of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, reductions in public services and curtailment of workers’ rights has no correlation with state prosperity.

Professor Peter Fisher, a leading expert on state economic development policy, looked at the economic performance of read more

Report’s Findings Suggest Kentucky’s Business Tax Incentives Not Very Cost-Effective Way to Create Jobs

By Jason Bailey
July 19, 2012

Put into context, the findings of a consulting group report to the Kentucky legislature suggest that state economic development incentive programs are not a very cost-effective way to create jobs—a result that is in line with other studies on this topic.

The report is the outgrowth of House Joint Resolution 5 in the 2011 Kentucky General Assembly, which required a study of the state’s incentives to attract business. Anderson Economic Group produced the report under contract with the legislature.

A challenge in determining whether incentive programs are cost-effective is the read more

Growth of Economic Development Incentives Comes with Little Accountability

By Jason Bailey
April 13, 2012

Two new reports released this week call attention to the growth of state economic development tax incentives and the lack of accountability mechanisms that would enable states to know what they are getting for those subsidies.

In its new report “Evidence Counts,” the Pew Center on the States notes that states spend billions of dollars each year on tax incentives to attract businesses without adequate measures to assess whether those incentives deliver the needed return for the investment.

The report identifies 13 states as “leading the way” toward greater assessment read more