There are perhaps three positive things that can be said about Whitley County’s April unemployment rate, which was released Thursday.
The first is that Whitley County’s April unemployment rate is better than the state average, which isn’t usually the case. The second is that Whitley County’s unemployment rate is better than that of any of its surrounding counties. The third is that Whitley County’s unemployment rate will probably improve when May’s numbers are released probably sometime in late June.
Not surprisingly, due to COVID-19 shutdowns, unemployment rates rose in all 120 Kentucky counties between April 2019 and April 2020, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
Between February 2020 and March 2020, local unemployment rates only increased between 1.7 – 2.0 percent due largely to COVID-19, but local rates all increased significantly between March 2020 and April 2020
Whitley County’s unemployment rate increased from 6.2 percent in March 2020 to 15.3 percent in April 2020. Whitley County’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 10.8 percent higher than the April 2019 unemployment rate.
Whitley County Judge-Executive’s Pat White Jr. said that the April unemployment rate was a “very dramatic spike” in unemployment.
“We are certainly concerned about that. We are concerned about phasing things back in where people can get back to work. We have had some large employers that have put their employees on leave through this COVID mainly out of safety and not necessarily demand. We hope that comes back quickly, and the economy rebounds. We are seeing some signs of that as we are seeing things open up a little bit,” he said.
White said that he doesn’t know if the May unemployment rate will be significantly better because this was only the beginning of phasing businesses back open.
“We hope to see June’s numbers significantly better and hope to see continued improvement throughout the summer and fall,” White added.
Laurel County’s unemployment rate increased from 6.0 percent in March 2020 to 17.6 percent in April 2020. Laurel County’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 13.2 percent higher than the April 2019 unemployment rate.
Knox County’s unemployment increased from 6.6 percent in March 2020 to 17.9 percent in April 2020. Knox County’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 12.4 percent higher than the April 2019 unemployment rate.
Bell County’s unemployment rate increased from 8.2 percent in March 2020 to 16.5 percent in April 2020. Bell County’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 11.5 percent higher than the April 2019 unemployment rate.
McCreary County’s unemployment increased from 7.9 in March 2020 to 15.8 percent in April 2020. McCreary County’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 10.5 percent higher than the April 2019 unemployment rate.
Clinton County recorded the lowest jobless rate in the Commonwealth at 8.4 percent. It was followed by Carlisle County, 8.7 percent; Cumberland County, 10.1 percent; Hickman County, 10.7 percent; Lyon County, 10.8 percent; Fulton County, 11.7 percent; Crittenden County, 11.8 percent; McLean and Pendleton counties, 11.9 percent each; and Todd County, 12 percent.
Marion County recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate at 28.6 percent. It was followed by Magoffin County, 27.8 percent; Scott County, 21.5 percent; Mercer County, 21.3 percent; Metcalfe County, 21.1 percent; Edmonson and Lincoln counties, 20.7 percent each; Russell County, 20.6 percent; and Harlan and Lewis counties, 20.3 percent each.
Kentucky’s county unemployment rates and employment levels listed here are not seasonally adjusted because of small sample sizes.
The comparable, unadjusted unemployment rate for the state was 16.1 percent for April 2020, and 14.4 percent for the nation.
Kentucky’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 10.8 percent higher than the March 2020 rate, and 12.2 percent higher than the April 2019 unemployment rate.
Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military 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.
Whitley County has a civilian labor force of 14,156 people with 11,989 employed and 2,167 unemployed. Statewide, Kentucky has a civilian labor force of 2,056,469 people with 1,725,446 employed and 331,023 unemployed.
Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at https://kystats.ky.gov/KYLMI.