Kentucky reported a record low unemployment rate Thursday, and while Gov. Andy Beshear celebrated the accomplishment, the state’s top business group said the state’s economy still faces some significant hurdles.
The Kentucky Center for Statistics announced the state’s April unemployment rate was 3.9%. That’s the lowest rate reported since the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics started tracking state unemployment in 1976.
“We’re building a Kentucky where people can create a better life through good jobs, affordable, accessible health care, world-class educational opportunities and solid infrastructure,” the governor told reporters Thursday. “We’re not just talking about building a better Kentucky. We’re doing it.”
Kentucky’s unemployment rate for April 2021 was 4.7%. It was 15.4% in April 2020, the first full month of the COVID-19 pandemic when scores of businesses had to close or reduce operations due to emergency regulations established by the state.
“As of April, Kentucky had recouped nearly 95% of the 296,000 jobs lost during the initial months of the pandemic,” said Mike Clark, the director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research in a statement.
According to the Center for Statistics, the state’s civilian workforce grew by 2,625 people last month. Currently, slightly less than 2.1 million Kentuckians are either employed or actively seeking work.
The number of people employed increased by 5,080 last month and is approaching 2 million total. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment roll dropped by 2,455 to 79,794.
Kentucky’s manufacturers reported the largest job gains, adding 6,000 jobs in April. Clark said that 2.5% increase was likely due to the “continuing volatility in supply chains” that many companies are enduring.
Several sectors saw declines in April. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 1,700 jobs. Retailers lost 2,100, and the construction industry workforce fell by 1,600 jobs.
While Kentucky reported an all-time low for monthly unemployment, it’s still slightly higher than the current national average of 3.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state’s rate is indeed good economic news, according to Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Analyst Charles Aull. However, he noted that the low overall participation numbers continue to throttle the state’s progress and recovery.
Kentucky’s workforce participation rate was 58.4% in March, the latest federal data available. The national rate was 62.4%.
“It is critical that we focus on bringing more Kentuckians into the labor market and removing barriers to work,” Aull said.
This article was originally posted on Kentucky unemployment rate reaches historic low in April