Kentucky’s unemployment rate has dropped once again–from 5.2 percent in March to 5 percent in April.
That’s down from 7 percent in April of 2014.
Manoj Shanker, an economist with the state Office of Employment and Training, said the lower unemployment rate should lead to acceleration in wage rates.
“When the market tightens, the same jobs that are paying say $8 or $9 an hour–in order to get more workers they’re going to be paying a little higher. And when they pay a little higher, then more workers enter the market,” Shanker said.
According to Shanker, wages have increased by about 2 percent since April 2014.
The largest employment sector in the state is transportation and utilities, which has gained about 6,200 positions since April 2014. Transportation and utilities jobs account for one-fifth of nonfarm employment in Kentucky.
The healthcare sector, which has grown in response to the expansion of Medicaid services in the state, added 1,600 jobs in April–that adds up to 5,000 jobs from a year ago. Healthcare accounts for about 15 percent of all nonfarm employment in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s manufacturing sector has also steadily grown, adding 1,100 jobs in April and 4,700 jobs since April 2014.
Kentucky’s civilian labor force increased by 3,590 during April. Shanker said those who worked off the grid or stopped looking for work altogether are starting to reenter the market.
“When jobs increase and wages go up, people sitting on the sidelines thinking, ‘Should we get back to look for jobs or not?’ enter the labor force,” Shanker said.
The state’s labor force has been on the decline in recent years as baby boomers have reached retirement age
The number of people employed in Kentucky increased by 4,984 in April and the number of unemployed decreased by 1,394.
The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. Kentucky has been below the national unemployment rate for nine months.