Monday, November 29, 2010

Daviess jobless rate dips to 8%

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

Nov. 25--Daviess County's unemployment rate dropped to 8 percent in October -- the lowest level here in nearly two years, the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training said Wednesday

The county's jobless rate hit 10.7 percent in June 2009 -- the first time it had been in double digits since July 1987.

It's been gradually falling since then, hitting 8.5 percent in September.

The last time Daviess County saw a rate lower than 8 percent was in December 2008 when it was at 7.1 percent at the beginning of what would become the Great Recession.

"That is good news," said Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

The good news should continue into 2011, he said.

"We've remained a bit below the state and national rates most months," Brake said.

The state rate was 9.3 percent in October. The national rate was 9 percent.

"Some of the increase in employment is from all the construction jobs in the county," Brake said.

Major projects include a new National Guard armory, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage call center and the hospital Owensboro Medical Health System is building.

"We're not satisfied yet," Brake said. "We're still working to get more jobs."

Only the Lexington metro among Kentucky's five metropolitan areas had a lower unemployment rate than the Owensboro metro in October.

Lexington's rate was 7.6 percent. Owensboro's was 8 percent.

The Louisville metro had the state's highest metro rate at 9.4 percent.

The state says the Owensboro metro area -- Daviess, Hancock and McLean counties -- has added 700 jobs in the past year.

The biggest growth, it said, was in government jobs -- up by 400.

That was followed by professional and business services, 200 jobs, and manufacturing, educational/health services and "other services," 100 each.

Some of those gains were offset, however, by the loss of 200 mining, logging and construction jobs here in the past year, the state said.

State records show a work force of 48,801 in Daviess County in October. Of those, 44,903 were working and 3,898 were searching for jobs.

All five counties in the Owensboro area saw unemployment rates in single digits in October. Muhlenberg was the only area county with a rate of more than 9 percent.

Ohio had an 8 percent rate; Hancock, 8.1 percent; McLean, 8.4 percent; and Muhlenberg, 9.3 percent.

The state said jobless rates fell in 113 of the 120 counties last month.

Woodford County recorded the lowest rate at 6.6 percent. Webster County had western Kentucky's lowest rate at 7 percent.

Magoffin County had the state's highest rate at 16.8 percent. Grayson County had western Kentucky's highest rate at 12.8 percent.

Statewide, "Six consecutive months of year-over-year job growth provides additional evidence of revitalization in the economy," Justine Detzel, the state's chief labor market analyst, said in a news release.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working, she said.

Across Kentucky, the professional and business services sector has added 8,600 jobs in the past year.

That's followed by manufacturing, 6,900 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, 5,300; leisure and hospitality, 3,000; "other services," 2,200; educational and health services, 2,000; and mining and logging, 400.

But the construction industry lost 7,100 jobs in the past year, while government lost 4,200; financial activities, 2,100 and information, 600.