KY Policy Blog

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 Lopsided Recovery Continues

By Jason Bailey
May 11, 2016

Job growth in Kentucky’s recovery continues to be concentrated in a minority of counties located in more prosperous parts of the state while many rural Kentucky counties face employment conditions that are much worse than before the Great Recession — and in some instances are worsening.

As was the case a year ago, only 28 of Kentucky’s 120 counties had more people employed in March 2016 (the latest month available) than in March 2007, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data that looks at employment by county of residence (see 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

Budget Should Move Forward on Early Childhood, Not Back

By Dustin Pugel
March 10, 2016

Quality early childhood education, through child care and preschool, has been shown to have multiple layers of value:

It helps the economy by generating jobs and economic activity, as well as savings from reduced public expenditures later in a child’s life. It helps parents by allowing them the freedom to work or go back to school to build the skills necessary to advance their careers. And children benefit from quality early childhood education immediately, making them more likely to be prepared for Kindergarten, as well as into adulthood, when they read more

With Medicaid Expansion, Kentucky Healthcare Job Growth Picked Up in 2015

By Jason Bailey
March 9, 2016

After modest growth in health care and social assistance jobs during the first year of Medicaid expansion, growth picked up at a rapid pace in 2015, according to newly-revised Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The billions of additional federal dollars coming in to the state to provide care for the newly insured likely played a role.

As shown in the graph below, jobs in the sector were tapering off before the state began signing people up for Medicaid expansion. Hospital employment declined (in Kentucky and nationally) as that industry reorganized read more

Three Steps to a Better Budget this Session

By Jason Bailey
February 25, 2016

The General Assembly has less than two months to finalize the next two-year state budget. Although the governor’s budget rightly takes a big step toward fully funding our pension liabilities, taken as a whole his plan would send the state backwards by deeply slashing the systems Kentucky relies on for the well-being of its citizens.

We don’t need to make such a painful choice. Kentucky can have a budget this session that more aggressively pays down our debt while better protecting education, human services and other vital investments needed to 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

Close Look at Employment Numbers Shows Need for More Jobs

By Jason Bailey
November 5, 2015

There’s a big inconsistency between Kentucky’s declining unemployment rate — now at five percent, the lowest level since 2001 — and the fact we still have many fewer people employed as a share of the population than before the Great Recession hit in 2007. This issue came up in the election and can be seen in the stark difference between the two graphs below — the unemployment rate shows full recovery from the recession, while according to the employment to population ratio things are still getting worse.

Those defending the read more

Child Care Workers’ Pay Is Not Enough

By Dustin Pugel
November 5, 2015

Child care plays a critical role for ensuring families can work and helping children get a healthy start to their developmental process. In Kentucky, it’s also responsible for $810 million in economic activity and over 26,000 jobs. However, as detailed in a new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), pay in the industry is low, affecting the quality of care available and the well-being of child care workers.

According to the study, most child care workers are 23 – to- 49 years old and have completed some college. The read more