FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — Kentucky’s latest unemployment rate was released Thursday by the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary December 2021 unemployment rate was 3.9%, down 0.2% from the November report and down 1.7% from the 5.6% unemployment rate of December 2020.

“As of December, Kentucky had recovered or replaced 82% of the jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Clark, Ph.D in a news release. “The rate of recovery improved beginning with an August jump in local government employment as schools reopened. Employment gains in construction, manufacturing, health care, and accommodations and food services over the past five months also contributed to the recovery.”

Kentucky’s civilian labor force increased by 5,251 in December. The number of people employed rose by 8,105 while the number of unemployed people decreased by 2,854 to 78,817.

Understanding seasonal adjustments

The civilian workforce includes nonmilitary workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are seeking work. Not unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for work within the past four weeks.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate and employment levels are seasonally adjusted.

Employment statistics undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal events like weather, harvests, holidays, and school openings and closings.

Seasonal adjustments eliminate these influences and make it easier to observe statistical trends. However, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not adjusted.

Labor market vs. employed

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor market includes those who have a job and those who are actively looking for a job.

The employment rate only includes those who did any work for pay or profit, who did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-operated business, or who were temporarily absent from their job.

Kentucky’s employment chart

The food services and construction subsectors led employment gains in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s unemloyment chart

Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,002,624 in December, and the number of employed increased to 1,923,807, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics.

Kentucky is pacing with the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate. The U.S. rate for December 2021 was 3.9%, down from the 4.2% reported in November 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Largest jobs growing in Kentucky

Food services and construction led employment gains in Kentucky.

Nonfarm data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program shows employment increased for eight of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System job sectors in December 2021 while three declined.

Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector soared by 4,400 from November to December, a 2.5% gain. This sector was up 20,700 jobs or 13.1% compared to December 2020. The arts, entertainment, and recreation subsector added 300 positions, and the accommodations and food services subsector added 4,100 jobs in December.

“December saw the largest gains in accommodations and food services employment since January,” said Clark. “This suggests that employers in this sector are having some success attracting workers.”

Construction employment increased by 1,800 jobs in December, a 2.2% gain from November and a gain of 6.7% from a year ago.

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector grew by 1,200 positions from November, but retail trade employment was down 500 jobs in December.

Kentucky manufacturing jobs grew by 900 jobs in December.

The financial activities sector rose by 700 positions in December. The finance and insurance subsector added 400 jobs, and real estate, rental, and leasing subsector added 300 jobs.

Professional and business services, and the information services sectors saw the lowest growth with a combined growth of 300 jobs.

Where is Kentucky losing jobs?

Kentucky lost most of its workforce from the government and “other services” sectors

The government sector was down by 500 jobs in December, a decrease of 0.2% from November. Most of the loss was in state government jobs, 1,500, but balanced by a gain of 1,100 jobs in local governments. Federal government employment also decreased by 100 jobs. Compared to December 2020 government employment was up 9,700 or 3.4%.

Employment in the other services sector, including maintenance, personal care, and religious organizations, declined by 400 jobs in December but was up 1,700 compared to a year ago.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sectors lost 200 jobs in December. The educational services subsector fell by 300 positions while the health care and social assistance subsector gained 100 positions. These sectors are up by 5,500 jobs or 2% compared to a year ago.

The number of jobs in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector grew by 100 in December. This sector was down 500 positions or 6.8% from a year ago.