KY Policy Blog

The Real Threat to Kentucky Manufacturing Jobs

By Jason Bailey
May 30, 2014

Expect to hear loud concerns next week that new rules to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change will harm Kentucky’s economy, including the state’s electricity-intensive manufacturing jobs.

Kentucky has reasons to be concerned about those jobs. Although manufacturing provides only about 12 percent of the state’s employment today, it’s been a critical source of decent-paying jobs for Kentuckians with less than a college degree. Maintaining and even growing a manufacturing sector remains vital to a diverse and innovative state economy.

But the overall jobs impact of the new read more

Another Bad Year for Kentucky Workers’ Wages

By Jason Bailey
August 8, 2013

Real wages for Kentucky workers fell again last year, continuing a slide that began in 2001. Congress’ unwillingness to spur a stronger economic recovery and act on policies like raising the minimum wage play a big role in depressing wages.

Low wage Kentucky workers continue to see the real value of their wages erode. Inflation-adjusted wages for workers at the 10th percentile fell 1.5 percent in 2012—to $7.99 an hour—and have declined 6.5 percent since 2001. Likewise, workers at the 20th and 30th percentile have seen the purchasing power of read more

Need for Health Care Workers Is an Economic Opportunity

By Jason Bailey
June 3, 2013

Because the expansion of Medicaid and creation of a state health insurance exchange will provide health coverage to several hundred thousand people, Kentucky will have workforce needs associated with meeting the new demand for care. While that’s a short-term challenge, it’s also an opportunity to create more of the good jobs that Kentuckians need.

The Medicaid expansion is expected to make coverage available to up to 308,000 Kentuckians, while the exchange will offer insurance to another estimated 332,000. The Medicaid expansion alone will bring over $1.2 billion a year in read more

Kentucky Remains Long Way from Employment Recovery

By Jason Bailey
March 21, 2013

New estimates show that Kentucky has added on average 1,500 net new jobs a month for the last six months and 1,525 a month for the last year. So far, the recovery is only very slowly shrinking the state’s jobs deficit, the gap between the jobs we have and the jobs we need to replace those lost in the recession and catch up with growth in the population.

At the worst point in the recession, Kentucky had lost an estimated 118,300 jobs. We have since gained back 85,700 of those read more

The State of Working Kentucky 2012: Jobs by Industry

By Jason Bailey
December 21, 2012

Kentucky’s economy continues to change, with a decline in manufacturing jobs and a shift toward more jobs in the service sector—a trend that has accelerated with the weak economy of the last few years. These changes have big implications for the job quality of Kentucky workers.

Kentucky experienced growth in manufacturing jobs throughout the 1990s, reaching a peak of 310,000 jobs in the year 2000. For about the last ten years, however, manufacturing jobs have plummeted with Kentucky losing nearly one-third of its factory employment over that period. Job loss read more

The State of Working Kentucky 2012: Race

By Ashley Spalding
December 20, 2012

The weak economy of the last few years has had far-reaching effects, but some groups have been harder hit than others. In particular, African Americans in Kentucky have suffered enormous job losses and continue to face a daunting labor market.

Over the last decade, unemployment for white Kentuckians remained consistently just below the state unemployment rate, while unemployment for African Americans was substantially higher—particularly toward the end of the decade. For whites, unemployment grew from 4.9 percent in 2001 to 10.1 percent in 2009, before dropping to 8.9 percent in read more

The State of Working Kentucky 2012: Education

By Ashley Spalding
December 19, 2012

There is no question that greater levels of education are associated with higher wages and employment rates in Kentucky, and employment has been declining among those with less than a college degree in recent years. However, median wages have been stagnant for Kentuckians at all education levels over the last ten years—suggesting that our problems with job quality are more complex than just a skills gap.

Kentucky has seen wage stagnation across the board, but for those with some college or a high school degree, the trend is not new. read more

The State of Working Kentucky 2012: Wages

By Jason Bailey
December 18, 2012

Working Kentuckians have experienced a lost decade in terms of wage growth, a trend that is undermining family economic security across the Commonwealth and will likely persist at least as long as the unemployment rate remains high.

During the last few years of the 1990s and the beginning of the last decade, median wages in both Kentucky and the U. S. climbed considerably. That happened because the nation had practically reached full employment, which by limiting the supply of available workers gave them the ability to obtain somewhat higher wages. read more

The State of Working Kentucky 2012: Youth

By Sean Litteral
December 13, 2012

In times of recession and high unemployment, it’s particularly hard for young people to find jobs. Competition for the jobs that do exist becomes more intense, making it harder for less-experienced workers to obtain employment.

That can be seen in the unemployment rate for Kentucky youth under age 24, which stood at 19.9 percent in 2011 compared to 9.5 percent for the entire Kentucky workforce. Young adults have experienced the brunt of the economic downturn and their climb from the trough of the recession has been slow.

The youth unemployment read more

Kentucky Job Growth Remains Slow and Jobs Deficit Substantial

By Jason Bailey
November 20, 2012

Between the start of the recession and February 2010, Kentucky lost 118,200 jobs. After several years of job growth, that gap has been trimmed to 35,100. However, ongoing growth in the working age population over those years means that the state’s actual jobs deficit has only partially declined. The gap between Kentucky jobs and the number of jobs the state needs to regain its pre-recession unemployment rate stands at 98,300 at the end of October.

Clearly, the pace of job growth is still too slow. Kentucky needs to add about read more