Thursday, September 23, 2010

Owensboro starting to regain jobs

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
Sept. 23, 2010

THE OWENSBORO METRO AREA -- Daviess, Hancock and McLean counties -- had 1,700 fewer jobs in July than it had during its best July of the past five years, a new report by Atlanta-based Garner Economics LLC says.

The number of people working here in July fell from a five-year peak of 50,900 to 49,200 during the period -- a drop of 3.5 percent.

But there's a silver lining of sorts.

The report prepared by Tom Tveidt, a research economist, looked at all 372 metro areas in the country.

And it found that 158 of them have started adding jobs again -- up from 135 in June.

That includes Owensboro.

A recent report by the Kentucky Office of Employment & Training says the Owensboro metro gained 500 jobs between July 2009 and July 2010.

But, it said, the three-county area still has 3,100 fewer jobs than it had before the recession began.

"Even though the numbers are negative, we have fared pretty well compared to our peers and other Kentucky regions," said Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

In fact, only one of the seven metropolitan areas that include Kentucky counties lost a smaller percentage of its jobs than Owensboro.

The Huntington, W.Va.-Ashland area lost 2,600 jobs -- from 117,600 to 115,000 -- down 2.3 percent.

But the other Kentucky metros lost a larger percentage of jobs than Owensboro.

Bowling Green lost 4,000 jobs -- falling from 60,700 jobs to 56,700 -- a drop of 7.1 percent.

Evansville-Henderson lost 8,000 -- from 178,100 to 170,100 -- down 4.7 percent.

Clarksville, Tenn.-Hopkinsville fell 4,000 -- from 83,900 to 79,900 -- a loss of 5 percent.

Lexington lost 13,000 jobs -- from 255,400 to 242,400 -- down 5.4 percent.

Louisville fell 30,700 -- from 623,100 to 592,400 -- a loss of 5.2 percent.

And Elizabethtown lost 2,400 jobs -- from 48,000 to 45,600 -- down 5.3 percent.

The Garner report says 67 U.S. metros are still 10 percent below their peak employment levels.

Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., tops that list with a loss of 36 percent of its jobs since July 2006.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com