The unemployment rate has risen over the past year in 96 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Data released by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training says that the unemployment rate rose to 7.7 percent, up .3 percent over 7.4 percent last year.
The hardest hit counties are in Eastern Kentucky, with Leslie County having the state’s highest jobless rate at 16.4 percent.
Declines in manufacturing and the coal industry are the biggest contributors to those numbers, says Munoj Shanker, an economist for the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet.
“For the last two years it’s been steeper and steeper, in the loss of jobs in coal,” Shanker says. “And that of course says that the multiplayer effect which economists love to talk about, which means if you lose those high-paying jobs in coal, all related jobs in restaurants and retail, suddenly evaporate too.”
Shanker believes that all the coal-affiliated jobs that can be lost have been lost, so the only way left to go is up.
WFPL’s Erica Peterson recently took a deep look at the coal industry’s issues in Eastern Kentucky—and the issues facing coal miners there. You can find that story here.
Woodford County reported the lowest unemployment rate, at 5.9 percent.
Nationally, the official unemployment rate for November was 6.6, but it does not include discouraged workers or part-time and underemployed workers.
As the Lexington Herald-Leader notes:
Those official numbers only reveal part of the problem because they only include people in the labor force actively looking for work.
In Leslie County, for example, 62.4 percent of adults are not counted as part of the labor force by the U.S. Census Bureau, in some cases because they’ve been unemployed for so long.
By comparison, in Woodford County, only 32.1 percent of adults are not counted in the labor force.
Here’s the data from the state:
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