Although Kentucky’s economy is recovering, significant challenges face the state’s workers and too many are working but still living in poverty. Looking only at the state’s low overall unemployment rate misses the fact that many have dropped out of the labor force and the serious job deficits facing parts of rural and eastern Kentucky. While Kentucky workers overall experienced some wage growth in 2015, some of the fastest-growing industries pay low wages and 30 percent of jobs pay less than $12.22 an hour. A substantial share of working families make too little to afford a basic family budget, and workers are increasingly less likely to receive benefits through their jobs. Strategies to improve conditions include a greater focus on job creation across the state, improved job quality standards, and work and income supports that remove barriers to advancement.
KCEP made the following presentation on the trends and challenges facing Kentucky’s working poor to the House Task Force on Vulnerable Kentuckians.