FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - While Kentucky is expected to see a massive spike in unemployment for the month of March, figures released by the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet on Thursday show the jobless rate dropped in February.
Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary February 2020 unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics. That was down 0.1 percent from last month, and the same as February 2019.
The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for February 2020 was 3.5 percent, down from 3.6 percent in January 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to the Cabinet, Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,083,955 in February 2020, a decrease of 797 individuals from January 2020. The number of people employed in February rose by 1,498, while the number unemployed fell by 2,295.
Civilian labor force statistics include nonmilitary workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks.
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 3,800 jobs in February 2020 compared to January 2020. Kentucky has added 12,900 jobs since February 2019, for a growth rate of 0.7 percent.
However, the recent closure of bars, restaurants and many other businesses to in-person traffic, due to restriction put in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, has led to skyrocketing numbers of job losses, forcing the state to relax requirements and streamline the process to claim unemployment benefits.
For the first time, independent contractors, small business owners, substitute teachers, gig economy workers, childcare workers from churches, cosmetologists, and anyone who has had to leave their job because of quarantine and no paid leave, now qualifies for unemployment in Kentucky.
Several days ago, during one of his daily afternoon press conferences, Beshear said unemployment applications had jumped 800 percent, compared to before the pandemic.
Nearly 49,000 Kentuckians applied for unemployment last week, compared to around 2,800 the previous week.