March unemployment rate mostly unchanged

Published 10:00 am Friday, April 21, 2023

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Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary March 2023 unemployment rate dropped slightly, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, an agency within the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet.

The 3.8% jobless rate last month was down 0.1% from February 2023, and was unchanged from the 3.8% recorded for the state in March 2022.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for March 2023 was 3.5%, which was also down 0.1% from he previous month, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,042,066 in March, an increase of 388 workers from February.  The number of people employed in March rose by 3,111 to 1,965,027 while the number of unemployed decreased by 2,723 to 77,039.

In a separate federal survey of business establishments that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 9,400 jobs in March compared to February.  Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 49,800 jobs or 2.6% compared to March 2022.

“Strong hiring during the first three months of the year has helped keep Kentucky’s unemployment rates at historic lows,” said University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Clark.  “While Kentucky saw slightly more people in the labor market in March, increased hiring among businesses has allowed more of Kentucky’s workforce to move from being unemployed to having a job.”

The business areas seeing the most growth in March included the educational and health services sector gained 2,700 positions in March 2023.  Since a year ago, this sector has grown by 11,400 jobs or 4%.

Construction employment jumped by 2,600 jobs in March 2023 or 3.1% from February and up 4,400 positions or 5.4% from one year ago.

“Despite higher interest rates cooling off the national housing market, Kentucky’s construction employers reported significant increases in employment,” Clark noted.

Among the biggest losers was Kentucky’s professional and business services sector which lost 1,000 jobs or 0.4% in March.

The financial activities sector lost 700 jobs and now has 2,000 fewer jobs than last March.

“Kentucky’s financial activities sector has now shown several months of decline,” said Clark. “The decrease occurred mainly among jobs in the finance and insurance subsector, which lost many of the employment gains that occurred after the pandemic.”