Kentucky Lags behind Nation in Growth of Jobs, Wages and Population

Sep 11, 2018

Credit Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Although the Bluegrass State is outperforming some of its neighbors, Kentucky trails the nation in the growth rate of jobs, population and wages.

A new report called “A Citizens Guide to Kentucky’s Economy since the Recession,” shows the state added 180,000 jobs since 2009. That’s a 10 percent increase in job growth compared to the national increase of about 13 percent.  

Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Louisville Paul Coomes prepared the report for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He said some regions of the state have been showing steady progress in several economic indicators. 

“We continue to see the strongest growth down the Interstate 65 and 75 corridors. So northern Kentucky, Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, Richmond, Somerset, those are the areas that have seen the strongest job growth, the population growth, and the highest pay per job.”

Overall, Coomes said Kentucky outperformed Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia in those categories. However, Indiana and Tennessee beat Kentucky in those economic indicators.

The report also shows Kentucky lagging behind most of the nation in personal income.

Kentucky ranks 47th in the nation in personal income, with the state average at $39,000. That compares to the national per capita income of $50,000. Connecticut tops the list of personal income at $70,000, followed closely by Massachusetts at $66,000.

Coomes said Kentucky is in the breadbasket of America, and that means it has different types of jobs, and lower salaries, than urban regions.

"If you look at the states that are the highest in per capita income, these are not manufacturing places, these are places that have major corporate headquarters. Tons of professional jobs where people are required to have graduate education.”

While Kentucky has been adding a substantial number of manufacturing jobs, especially in the automotive sector, Coomes says manufacturing has become only about 10 percent of jobs nationally.Kentucky fell below Indiana and Tennessee in per capita income, with both of those states at $44,000 per capita income.