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How to improve Kentucky's low labor force participation rate and why changes to UI benefits are not the answer


Given the tight labor market we are currently experiencing, the labor force participation rate is receiving a lot of attention. Recently, Kentucky legislators have made changes to the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) benefit program to address the low labor force participation in the state.

However, changes to UI eligibility is unlikely to have any significant change on the state’s labor force participation rate. Policies targeting child care and economic opportunity for individuals with a disability and older workers are the main instruments for improving the state’s labor force participation rate.

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KentuckianaWorks Explains: Labor Force Participation Rate

In this video, we explain what the labor force participation rate is, how Kentucky stacks up, and consider important factors influencing why Kentucky’s rate is lower than the nation’s. 

January snapshot for the Louisville region

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Change since January of last year

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The preliminary data for the Louisville region in January 2022 show very good news! The size of the labor force is just under 3,000 workers shy of its level in January 2020 and larger than the size of the labor force in January 2019. This means the number of people in our region who are working or actively looking for work is almost back to its pre-pandemic level! The unemployment rate is seemingly higher at 4.1% because of the new entrants into the labor force. Given the number of online job postings, it is likely these workers will quickly transition from unemployed to employed. Fingers crossed this momentum continues into the rest of 2022.

January's Labor Market Dashboard

KW Conversations

Mental Health Careers and Representation

On KW Conversations, we address workforce and education issues that matter to the Louisville region. In Episode 6, KentuckianaWorks Sr. Program Director Angella Wilson talks to Ludmilla Plenty and Kourtnee Seymour from Seven Counties Services about their career paths in the mental health field, representation in the sector, and career opportunities for those who are interested.

You can listen to episodes on your podcast app, Spotify, or Youtube. Learn more about each of the episodes here

Success Stories

Meet Jessica! She had a job as Youth Lead at the Louisville Central Community Center. She is using the skills she learned to pursue a degree in Public Relations in Boston. Learn more or register at summerworks.org.

Meet Nina! She moved to Louisville and couldn't find a job. After working with career counselors at the Kentucky Career Center, she was able to find a great career in the administrative field. Learn more at kentuckianaworks.org/workers.

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The Labor Market Update is a monthly report produced by KentuckianaWorks, the Louisville region's Workforce Development Board. The report gives Louisville's policymakers and business leaders an overview of the local economy through powerful visuals and concise analysis. 

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