Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Releases December 2021 Unemployment Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Links to the unemployment rate chart, employment chart, and the COVID-19 statement are below.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2022) —Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary December 2021 unemployment rate was 3.9%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC).

The preliminary December 2021 jobless rate was down 0.2 percentage points from the 4.1% reported in November 2021 and down 1.7 percentage points from the 5.6% recorded for the state one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for December 2021 was 3.9%, down from the 4.2% reported in November 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based upon estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working, and includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

Kentucky’s civilian labor force was 2,002,624 in December 2021, an increase of 5,251 individuals from November 2021. The number of people employed in December increased by 8,105 to 1,923,807 while the number of unemployed decreased by 2,854 to 78,817.

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 rose by 8,300 jobs in December 2021 compared to November 2021. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment was up 61,500 jobs or 3.3% compared to December 2020.

“As of December, Kentucky had recovered or replaced 82% of the jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic,” said Clark. “The rate of recovery improved beginning with an August jump in local government employment as schools reopened. Employment gains in construction, manufacturing, health care, and accommodations and food services over the past five months also contributed to the recovery.”

“The recovery is also reflected in Kentucky’s labor market, which increased by nearly 22,000 workers since July,” said Clark. “After declining to 56.3% in the summer, Kentucky’s labor force participation rate ended the year at 56.8%. This rate is still well below pre-pandemic levels.”

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for eight of Kentucky’s 11 major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in December 2021 while three declined.

Employment in Kentucky’s leisure and hospitality sector jumped by 4,400 positions from November 2021 to December 2021, a gain of 2.5%. This sector was up 20,700 jobs or 13.1% compared to December 2020. The arts, entertainment and recreation subsector added 300 positions and the accommodations and food services subsector added 4,100 jobs in December.

“December saw the largest gains in accommodations and food services employment since January,” said Clark. “This suggests that employers in this sector are having some success attracting workers.”

Construction employment increased by 1,800 jobs in December 2021, or 2.2% over November. The construction sector was up 5,300 positions or 6.7% from one year ago.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector grew by 1,200 positions from November 2021 to December 2021. Retail trade employment was down 500 jobs in December. Wholesale trade gained 800 positions. Transportation, warehousing and utilities added 900 jobs. Since December 2020, employment in this sector has increased by 11,400 jobs or 2.8%.

Kentucky’s manufacturers added 900 jobs from November 2021 to December 2021. This represents a gain of 0.4%. All of these gains were in the durable goods subsector, which increased by 900 or 0.6% from November to December. Employment in non-durable goods did not change from November to December. Kentucky’s manufacturing employment was up 8,300 positions or 3.4% since December 2020.

Employment in the financial activities sector rose by 700 positions in December 2021. The finance and insurance subsector added 400 jobs from November 2021 to December 2021. The real estate, rental and leasing subsector added 300 jobs. The financial activities sector was up by 1,300 jobs or 1.4% compared to last December.

Employment in the professional and business services sector increased by 200 jobs or 0.1% in December 2021. Employment rose by 100 jobs in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector and by 200 jobs in the management of companies subsector. The administrative and support and waste management subsector lost 100 jobs. Employment in this sector was down 2,100 or 1% since December 2020.

The number of jobs in Kentucky’s mining and logging sector grew by 100 from November 2021 to December 2021. This sector was down 500 positions or 6.8% from a year ago.

The information services sector gained 100 jobs from November to December. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. The number of jobs in this sector was up by 200 or 1% from one year ago.

Kentucky’s educational and health services sector lost 200 jobs in December 2021. The educational services subsector fell by 300 positions from November to December while the health care and social assistance subsector gained 100 positions. Since last December, this sector has increased by 5,500 jobs or 2%.

Employment in the other services sector declined by 400 jobs in December 2021 but was up 1,700 positions since December 2020. The other services sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

The government sector employment was down by 500 jobs from November 2021 to December 2021. This represents a decrease of 0.2% over November 2021. Federal government employment decreased by 100 jobs. Employment was down by 1,500 jobs in state government and up by 1,100 jobs in local government. Total government employment was up 9,700 positions or 3.4% compared to December 2020.

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.

Kentucky’s statewide unemployment rate and employment levels are seasonally adjusted. Employment statistics undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal events, such as weather changes, harvests, holidays and school openings and closings. Seasonal adjustments eliminate these influences and make it easier to observe statistical trends. However, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit