KY Policy Blog

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

Refugees, Immigrants Important to Kentucky and the Economy: An Overview of the Research

By Anna Baumann
February 1, 2017

From the promise to build a wall paid for by tariffs on Mexican imports and uncertainty about what will happen to DACA (which allows undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children to apply for a renewable reprieve from deportation), to a 120-day ban on refugee admissions and an indefinite ban for Syrians, President Trump’s actions and intimations around immigration have sparked outrage and a national debate.

The conversation should take into account immigrants’ integral role in our economy and communities where they work, do business, pay read more

Kentucky Would Have the Second Highest Rate of Job Loss With Healthcare Law Repeal

By Dustin Pugel
January 31, 2017

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, Kentucky’s rate of job loss would be the second worst of any state with the elimination of an estimated 55,949 jobs or nearly 3 percent of the state’s workforce, according to a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

Kentucky’s job loss as a share of its employment would be higher than any other state except New Mexico.

The report also shows that repeal would take away $4.1 billion in federal spending from Kentucky’s economy while the tax cuts that would also be read more

Mix of Criminal Justice Bills So Far in 2017 General Assembly

By Ashley Spalding
January 18, 2017

With Kentucky’s growing inmate population and high rates of recidivism, what we need in 2017 is legislation that will make these problems better, not worse. The criminal justice bills filed so far this session are a mix of both. While several bills could lead to fewer people being incarcerated or create more ways for Kentuckians with records to get a second chance, other bills would put more people in prison, particularly those struggling with addiction.

Here are some of the bills that could help to provide a second chance to read more

Prevailing Wage Repeal Would Worsen Job Quality, Harm Kentucky Economy

By Anna Baumann
December 22, 2016

Good-paying jobs like those in construction are the foundation of a healthy middle class and growing economy, and a skilled construction workforce builds the high-quality physical infrastructure necessary for  growth. According to a new research report, Kentucky’s prevailing wage law strengthens this important industry, and its repeal would have negative repercussions for job quality, workforce development and local economies in the Commonwealth.

Repeal Would Reduce Job Quality for Construction Workers

Kentucky’s prevailing wage law requires construction workers on state and local public projects costing more than $250,000 to be compensated, 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

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

Address Declining Workforce through Job Creation and Work Supports

By Jason Bailey
July 11, 2016

The administration’s proposal to change Medicaid is framed around increasing workforce participation — making it harder for people to get public benefits, it is assumed, will somehow make them more likely to seek work. But as a recent report by the Council of Economic Advisors shows, the gradual decline in the workforce — especially among working age men — can be linked primarily to a loss of decent jobs accessible to less-educated workers as well as the absence of a variety of supports that remove barriers to employment.

Over the read more

Rural Kentucky Population Continues Decline While Urban and Suburban Areas Grow

By Dustin Pugel
May 23, 2016

Recently released population estimates from the Census show that, over the last five years, Kentucky continues to urbanize. Rural eastern and western counties’ populations have dropped while the “golden triangle” (the region bound by Jefferson, Fayette, and the northern Kentucky counties) as well as the Owensboro-Bowling Green corridor grew. Overall, between 2010 and 2015, Kentucky grew by an estimated 77,155 people or 1.8 percent. Almost all of the state’s net increase in population, 68,810, occurred in cities.

By percent, the counties that saw the largest loss of population were:

Lee read more