KY Policy Blog

New Employment Data Shows Hardship Across the Commonwealth and for Low-Wage Earners

By Dustin Pugel
October 23, 2020

Amidst a new surge of COVID-19 cases, recent data shows that employment in virtually all Kentucky counties remained severely depressed in September. When looking at the economic recovery by income levels, the picture is worse for low-income workers, whose recovery stalled out months ago, and for whom jobs remain scarce. All of this points to the need for significantly more federal aid to help jumpstart the recovery and alleviate significant hardship.

County-level employment data shows widespread hardship

Last week’s statewide data that showed the recovery may have weakened in September, read more

Tracking SNAP in Kentucky

By Dustin Pugel
October 16, 2020

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a vital source of assistance that helps put food on the table for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians. As of 2018, in Kentucky it provided food assistance to 239,000 children, 70,000 people over the age of 60, and 290,000 age 18-59. It is also an economic benefit to communities throughout the commonwealth, with direct economic benefits of $739 million during the 2019 federal fiscal year. This post will serve to track SNAP in Kentucky – as it responds to such policy decisions as read more

Kentucky Recovery Halted in September, Heightening Need for Much More Federal Aid

By Jason Bailey
October 15, 2020

New jobs numbers for September show Kentucky’s economy failed to make badly-needed progress last month as the effects of federal stimulus legislation passed in March continue to fade. The state’s joblessness is at a historic high, and particularly hard hit are low-wage workers and workers of color. New threats loom for sectors of the economy ranging from the airline industry to state and local governments, and more businesses are shuttering for good. Congress must agree to a new round of robust aid or the economy and Kentucky families will face read more

Kentucky Has Much to Lose if Supreme Court Strikes Down the Affordable Care Act

By Dustin Pugel
October 14, 2020

Kentucky has greatly benefitted from the 2010 passage of the federal Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (ACA). Thanks to the ACA, we were among states with the largest declines in the share of the population without health insurance – gains that also improved equity for Black and Hispanic Kentuckians – and billions of federal dollars have flowed into local economies, creating jobs in clinics and helping keep rural hospitals open. Additionally, nearly 2 million Kentuckians with pre-existing health conditions have protections against harmful insurance company practices that were common read more

IDs Are a Necessity for Successful Reentry

By Carmen Mitchell
October 1, 2020

When people who have been incarcerated are released from jail and prison, support services such as housing and mental health can help them get back on their feet and avoid returning to the criminal justice system. In order to connect with these services and other foundations of successful reentry, photo identification unlocks many doors.

Yet obtaining an ID can be a difficult process because of related costs, transportation and documentation requirements (getting a birth certificate, social security card or other identification documentation can take a long time). Kentucky should implement read more

Continued Slow Job Growth in August, Historic Kentucky Jobs Gap Remains

By Jason Bailey
September 18, 2020

Kentucky had another month of relatively modest job growth in August, and the state continues to face a massive shortage of jobs while signs in the national economy show more temporary layoffs are becoming permanent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) monthly survey of businesses shows the state added 30,800 jobs in August (or 1.7% growth), the second month of slower job growth compared to the 111,100 jobs that were added in June. That slowdown means we are still 124,700 jobs behind where we were in February.

The BLS monthly read more

Black Kentucky Workers Are More Likely To Have Been Laid Off in the Pandemic, and Less Likely To Have Been Hired Since

By Dustin Pugel
September 11, 2020

Black Kentuckians are experiencing job loss at a higher rate than white Kentuckians in the COVID-19 pandemic. A long history of racist policies ranging from slavery and Jim Crow to white-favoring hiring practices, tax policies and labor standards has led to Black Kentuckians being disproportionately underpaid, underemployed and less financially able to weather economic shocks. The data point to the need for much more in federal aid in order to prevent racial disparities from growing deeper and protect all Kentuckians during the pandemic and recession.

According to recently released data read more

More College Students Can’t Meet Their Basic Needs in the COVID-19 Pandemic, Requiring Federal and State Action

By Ashley Spalding and Jessica Klein
September 10, 2020

Too many college students in Kentucky returning to school in-person and online during the pandemic face challenges getting adequate food and housing. Meeting such basic needs was already a struggle for many – a struggle that the pandemic and economic crisis is worsening. While some individual campus interventions such as on-campus food banks should be sustained and even expanded, Congress as well as Kentucky lawmakers need to do more to address basic needs insecurity for college students.

College students experienced basic needs insecurity prior to COVID-19

Even outside of the read more

Kentucky Must Continue Momentum Reducing Jail and Prison Population

By Ashley Spalding, Dustin Pugel, Pam Thomas and Carmen Mitchell
September 3, 2020

As we enter the seventh month of the COVID-19 pandemic, jails and prisons have been among the top “hotspots” for COVID-19 at the same time incarcerated individuals are among the most medically vulnerable populations at risk of serious complications from the virus. In Kentucky, in response to these concerns, significant overall declines in incarceration in county jails have occurred, as well as some declines in state prisons.

However, in the past couple of months some local jail populations have increased, particularly in rural counties. With the pandemic stretching on and read more

Federal Relief Shored Up Kentucky’s Budget, but New Projections Raise Big Concerns About Remainder of Year

By Pam Thomas
September 2, 2020

The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed Kentucky’s revenues and budget, but in the last fiscal year the impact was softened by substantial federal relief to families, businesses and the state. As Kentucky begins the 2021 fiscal year in a pandemic far from over, most of these federal aid measures have expired.

A new forecast from the Office of the State Budget Director (OSBD) projects significant shortfalls this year even with extensions of some federal aid — which Congress does not yet have agreement on. In the read more