Community Economy

The unemployment rate for the Louisville Metro area seems to be on the decline after spiking at the beginning of the year.

The latest data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show the area’s unemployment rate for March 2017 was 4.4 percent, down slightly from 4.7 percent in the month prior.

The unemployment rate is based on the number of residents who don’t have a job, but want one and have actively sought employment within the past month, according to the federal agency that keeps track of the nation’s labor force.

The the unemployment rate is used as an indicator of the health of the nation’s economy and labor market. Nationwide, the unemployment rate in March was 4.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Louisville Metro, an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent means more than 29,100 residents sought, but could not land, a job in March 2017. The labor force for Louisville Metro is comprised of about 662,000 people.

Generally, the area’s unemployment rate has been steadily falling since peaking at 11.9 percent in February 2010, likely a result of the economic recession that began in 2008. The lowest measurement came in November 2016, when the unemployment rate bottomed at 3.7 percent, according to the federal agency.

In March 2016, the area’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent, according to the bureau.

The falling unemployment rate has also contributed to a near $75 million boost in occupational tax revenue for Louisville Metro government, according to city budget documents.

Compared with peer cities — those which city officials consider benchmarks to measure progress — Louisville Metro’s unemployment rate is slightly above the average.

There are 18 peer cities and Louisville’s 4.4 percent unemployment rate is the ninth highest, according to a review by WFPL News.

The peer city with the lowest unemployment rate, according to the latest statistics, is Grand Rapids, Michigan (3.1 percent). The peer city with the highest unemployment rate is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (5.4 percent).

Nashville’s unemployment rate for March 2017 was 3.6 percent. In Indianapolis, the rate was 3.5 percent. In Lexington, which is not considered a peer city, the March unemployment rate was 4.0 percent.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.