KY Policy Blog

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

Understanding Pension Contributions in the Final Budget

By Jason Bailey
May 26, 2016

The issue of pensions for Kentucky public employees and teachers is complex, and the two main pension systems — the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS) and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) — are in distinct but related predicaments.

While a number of factors are at play in the conditions facing these funds, the primary reason for the challenges facing them is the failure of the General Assembly in the past to make the actuarially required contribution (ARC). The ARC is the amount of money that should be contributed annually to read more

A Fourth of Kentucky’s Salaried Workforce Will Benefit Under Increase to Overtime Threshold

By Anna Baumann
May 18, 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 today, 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.

Forty years ago, 60 percent of salaried workers were protected by the overtime rule, but failure to update read more

Kentucky’s Class of 2016 Faces Lingering Slack in Labor Market

By Anna Baumann
April 25, 2016

Despite improvement, the labor market is still weak for young Kentuckians graduating from high school and college in 2016 according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). These graduates join the previous seven classes who have faced “profound weakness” following the Great Recession.

In 2015, the unemployment rate for workers under age 25 in Kentucky was still 0.5 percentage points higher than before the recession (unemployment includes people who are currently without work, but actively seeking a job). Even more indicative of the extent of labor market read more

New Early Childhood Education Report Highlights Benefits of Investment

By Dustin Pugel
April 19, 2016

Too little funding for early childhood care and education (ECCE) in Kentucky means that quality care is too expensive for low-income families, and remains unaffordable for most Kentuckians.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute lays out a broad argument for why bold investment in ECCE is needed. In short, children who have high quality early childhood experiences benefit immediately and well into adulthood, families with access to affordable care are able to invest in their income-earning potential and pursue careers, and states can more generally invest in a read more

House Budget Does Not Restore Many Crucial Services for Vulnerable Kentuckians

By Anna Baumann
March 18, 2016

The House budget bill builds on Governor Bevin’s proposed funding for KTRS and KERS and rightly restores his cuts to P-12 and higher education. However, it maintains reductions to other budget areas, including parts of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) that serve Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens.

The House budget appropriates a total of $2.5 billion in 2017 and $2.7 billion in 2018 from the General Fund (GF) to the Cabinet – just over $12 million (or 0.5 percent) more each year than the Governor proposed. $10.6 million read more

Kentucky Weak in Some Aspects of Poverty and Opportunity, Strong in Others

By Dustin Pugel
February 29, 2016

A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) ranks how well the states have addressed the problems facing low-income families through 16 indicators. Kentucky’s results are mixed, with high school graduation rates, available affordable housing, the gender wage gap and health insurance coverage putting Kentucky ahead of most other states, but the state falls behind most of the rest of the country in 12 other indicators.

Back of the pack:

Kentucky ranks 48th out of the states and DC for food insecurity. Between 2012 and 2014, 17.5 percent read more

Eastern Kentucky, Veterans Affairs Workers Benefiting From Raised Minimum Wage for State Workers

By Dustin Pugel
December 7, 2015

More than 800 Kentucky workers have benefited across the Commonwealth because of the executive order raising the minimum wage for state workers and contractors signed last summer by outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear.

In July, Gov. Beshear raised the minimum pay for state workers to $10.10 an hour and the tipped minimum wage to $4.90 an hour. Additionally, Beshear required those who contract with state government to pay a $10.10 minimum wage to their employees, although such measures wouldn’t take effect until contracts are renewed.

There are currently 68 counties with read more

Raising Minimum Wage Would Reduce Spending on Medicaid

By Dustin Pugel
December 4, 2015

Those advocating to scale back Kentucky’s highly-successful Medicaid expansion cite a concern about its cost to the state. One way to help buffer costs would be to raise the minimum wage in Kentucky to $10.10 per hour, which would reduce the state’s spending on Medicaid by an estimated $34 million each year according to research by the Center for American Progress.

An increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 would directly impact an estimated 304,000 Kentucky workers, 16,700 of whom would see their earnings increase to the point that they read more