KY Policy Blog

Key Mechanism for Growing Middle Class in Kentucky Is Still Broken

By Anna Baumann
November 2, 2016

Wages for Kentucky workers finally grew last year, suggesting both a tightening labor market and pointing to strong recent growth in manufacturing and health care jobs, among other industries. But one year of good news doesn’t change the fact that the gains from economic growth are not being shared equitably with Kentucky workers.

Four decades’ worth of data show a long-term trend in which Kentucky workers’ paychecks are lagging behind growth in productivity, or the value of our economy’s output per hour of work. Between 1979 and 2015, typical Kentucky read more

New Urgency for State Minimum Wage Action

By Dustin Pugel
October 20, 2016

The decision by the Supreme Court of Kentucky invalidating local minimum wage increases means 76,000 working Kentuckians in our two biggest cities now must look to the General Assembly for action. An estimated 45,000 workers in Louisville and 31,300 workers in Lexington will no longer receive the much-needed raises made possible by local minimum wage ordinances. All this makes action even more urgent on the part of the General Assembly to raise the minimum wage state-wide while allowing localities the freedom to go beyond the level the state sets.

Across read more

SNAP Works for Kentucky’s Children

By Dustin Pugel
October 13, 2016

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps Kentucky families put food on the table. But we now know that it accomplishes much more than that.

Research increasingly shows that SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, can ward against the long-term effects on children of experiencing poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence — events that can take a toll on their well-being as adults.  As a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report finds, SNAP helps form a strong foundation of health read more

Infographic: Why Kentuckians Will Benefit from New Overtime Rule

By Kenny Colston
October 3, 2016

An estimated 149,000 salaried Kentucky workers will become entitled to overtime protections under President Obama’s increase to the overtime salary threshold announced in May, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Over the years, this threshold has eroded, and the change will mean protections from unpaid hours for many low salary workers, an increase in jobs as employers must rely less on unpaid labor and salary boosts for some workers. Recently, several governors, including Kentucky’s, filed a lawsuit against this new rule. But this update to fair read more

Department of Labor Rule Clears the Way for State Sponsored Retirement Plan for Private Sector Workers

By Ashley Spalding
September 29, 2016

A new federal Department of Labor (DOL) rule clears the way for states to offer a particular model of retirement plan for private sector workers without it being subject to regulation under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1972 (ERISA). We previously described how too many Kentuckians are underprepared for retirement — with hundreds of thousands of private sector workers not having access to a retirement plan through their employer, particularly those working for small businesses. The new DOL rule provides a great opportunity for states like Kentucky read more

The Safety Net in Kentucky Lifts 810,000 People Out of Poverty

By Gayle Bartilow
August 17, 2016

The safety net plays a critical role in alleviating poverty and strengthening the Commonwealth, lifting approximately 810,000 Kentuckians above the poverty line each year through federal and state funded programs, according to a recent fact sheet by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

For the nation, the federal poverty rate is reduced from 30 percent to 11.2 percent once these supports are factored into income (for a family of 4, the federal poverty threshold is $24,300).

The safety net includes both social insurance programs that are “universal” – read more

Report Explores Contributions of Refugees to Kentucky and the U.S.

By Gayle Bartilow
July 27, 2016

A recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows  Kentucky is home to refugee populations that rank our state and some metro areas among those with the largest identified refugee communities across the U.S. Using Census data to look at four groups in particular — Bosnian, Burmese, Hmong, and Somali, who together make up about one in every five refugees resettled in the U.S. since 1982 — the report explores their success at integrating into and contributing to their new communities.

As CAP discusses, Kentucky has the 13th read more

New Report Shows Cause for Concern Over High Income Inequality in Kentucky

By Anna Baumann
June 16, 2016

The top one percent of earners in Kentucky have taken home one-fourth of all income growth in the recovery from the Great Recession, continuing a decades-long trend of rising income inequality in the Commonwealth and across the nation. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute measures this trend at the national, regional, state and local level, showing, for instance, that while real income for the wealthiest 1 percent of Kentuckians rose by 60.1 percent between 1979 and 2013 (the last year for which data are available), it dropped by read more

How Income Inequality Looks Across Kentucky Counties

By Dustin Pugel
June 16, 2016

The average income of the top 1 percent of Kentuckians is 16.6 times greater the average income of everyone else in the state according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. The report determined the average income of the top 1 percent earners in Kentucky is $619,585 compared to an average income of $37,371 for the “bottom” 99 percent using IRS tax return data from 2013.

When looking at counties, the ratio of top income earners to the rest varies from 5.9 in Robertson county to 21.9 in read more

Federal Payday Lending Rule a Win for Kentuckians

By Dustin Pugel
June 2, 2016

To read KCEP’s submitted comments on the rule, click here.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its long awaited proposed rule to reign in many abusive practices of payday lenders nationwide. In Kentucky, this would impact roughly 200,000 mostly low-income payday lending customers.

While Kentucky law limits annual interest rates on financial products to a maximum of 36 percent, payday lenders are exempt, and can issue unsecured loans for $15 per $100 borrowed, for up to $500, often for a 2-week term. Borrowers are not allowed to have more read more