Republican Governor Bill Haslam is questioning why Tennessee's unemployment rate remains well above the national level.
The most recent national unemployment rate released Friday was 5.9 percent -- the lowest level since July 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession. Meanwhile, Tennessee's jobless rate was 7.4 percent in August.
Haslam says Tennessee is among the top states adding new jobs and that the state is not adding a large number of new claims for unemployment benefits. That's why the governor says "it's a little hard to understand" why Tennessee has been unable to whittle away at the unemployment rate.
Haslam says he has asked some economists to look into the statistics to see if they can find an explanation for Tennessee's high unemployment rate.
President Barack Obama's visit to southwestern Indiana will include a stop at a minority-owned steel processor for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana.
The Evansville Courier & Press reports Obama will visit Millennium Steel Service LLC to mark Manufacturing Day on Friday. It says there's no time listed in a notification sent by the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Millennium Steel is located adjacent to the Toyota plant south of Princeton.
Millennium Steel was founded in 2001 as a joint venture between Henry Jackson and Toyota. The company's website says revenue grew from $37 million in 2001 to $250 million in 2011. Black Enterprise Magazine rates the company one of the 100 Top Black Owned Businesses.
The company started with 10 employees. Gibson County officials say it now has 58.
A state economist says Kentucky is on pace in the coming months to fully regain all the jobs lost during the Great Recession.
Economist Monoj Shanker said Thursday that Kentucky has regained 96 percent of the 122,100 jobs that were shed as a result of the deep economic downturn, and that a full pre-recession recovery is expected by year's end.
Shanker says nonfarm employment in Kentucky totaled 1,865,800 in August, up by 24,000 positions from a year ago. Last month's total is 4,800 jobs away from reaching the state's peak employment in January 2008 before job losses began mounting during the recession.
The state says last month's jobless rate in Kentucky dropped to 7.1 percent, down 1.3 percent from a year ago.
Kentucky's unemployment rate remains above the national rate.
A new report shows tourism related to Mammoth Cave National Park is responsible for $40 million in economic benefit to the region.
The analysis conducted by a group of economists with the U.S. Geological Survey measured the impact of tourism dollars spent by park visitors in 2013. According to the report, 494,541 visitors came to Mammoth Cave National Park last year, with tourism dollars supporting 567 jobs in the region.
Mammoth Cave acting superintendent Lizzie Watts told WKU Public Radio the nearly half-a-million visitors who came to the south-central Kentucky attraction did more than just spend money. She says they also walked away with an enhanced respect for the region that they take back with them to their communities across the U.S. and globe.
“The environment of Mammoth Cave is one of the most unique in the whole world. So just the experience of walking in the cave for many people, it’s the one time--and maybe the only time—they get that experience. And they can take that all over the world and say ‘yes, I was in the largest cave system in the whole world.’”
Watts says Mammoth Cave is seeing an increase in the number of visitors interested in boating along the Green River, as well as those using the eight-mile Big Hollow Trail, which was opened in December to mountain bikers, hikers, and runners.
“The park itself is really a mecca for recreation above the ground, in many ways, both biking and hiking, and boating and canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding.”
Overall, the new report says the 273.6 million visitors to National Park Service attractions in 2013 spent $14.6 billion in areas within 60 miles of a park.
Kentucky is facing a $91 million budget shortfall, and one of the driving factors is a decline in a form of income primarily used by the nation’s wealthiest individuals.
In 2012, the U.S. Congress was preparing to take the country over the “fiscal cliff” over rising debt, rising healthcare costs, and spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To reduce the deficit, President Obama proposed raising the federal capital gains tax, which largely impacted the nation's wealthiest, prompting a massive sell-off by 2013.
As a result, state budget forecasters anticipated a repeat of such revenue on what was essentially a one-time occurrence.
“All states knew of this change, and they made adjustments in their revenue estimates, but it was a much larger impact nationwide than states planned for,” said Kentucky State Budget Director Jane Driskell.
Driskell says there is no need for a special legislative session to address the shortfall. Governor Beshear could issue a budget reduction order to balance the state’s coffers.
Albert Mbanfu, Executive Director, Bowling Green International Center; Dalton Workman, Chairman, WKU College Republican; and H.H. Barlow, Owner, Barlu Farms, Presidential Appointee to US Board for International Food & Agriculture Development speak in favor of national immigration reform during the press conference at the International Center in Bowling Green, Ky.
A coalition of business, political, and refugee-rights groups in south-central Kentucky is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.
As part of a so-called national “Day of Action”, representatives from various backgrounds spoke Wednesday in Bowling Green about the need for Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration to get reform passed this year.
Barren County dairy farmer H.H. Barlow, a presidential appointee to the U.S. Board for International Food and Agriculture Development, said many Americans don’t understand the impact immigrant labor has on sectors such as the agriculture industry.
“I hate the word ‘criminals’, or ‘illegal aliens’—I don’t like that term. They’re workers. They’re performing an essential service to our country,” Barlow said.
The Barren County farmer said he speaks to his elected representatives about the need for immigration reform each time he sees them. Barlow believes that reform will not only benefit immigrants, but also the U.S. economy.
Gov. Steve Beshear on Monday announced $1.3 million in grants for an initiative to create jobs in the depressed coal regions of Eastern Kentucky.
The state plans to use $1 million to fund 52 full-time AmeriCorp positions to shore up "youth engagement, education success and health and human services over the next year," according to a news release from the governor's office. About $312,000 "will support implementation and technical assistance by a consortium of nine Area Development Districts located in the region."
Beyond that, it's unclear how the money will be administered by the 12-member executive committee of the SOAR, or Shaping Our Appalachian Region, initiative.
Beshear, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents Eastern Kentucky, unveiled SOAR in December in an attempt to gather ideas for revitalizing the economically devastated coal communities in Eastern Kentucky.
Kentucky’s two U.S. Senators have helped defeat an effort to raise the federal minimum wage.
Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul joined almost every other GOP Senator Wednesday in voting against a bill that would have boosted the minimum pay level for federal workers to $10.10 an hour by 2016, up from the current rate of $7.25.
Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats voted against the bill, with Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly supporting it.
Overall, the bill received 54 votes in favor and 42 votes against, short of the 60-vote threshold needed to continue.
Tennessee’s Bob Corker was the only Republican to vote in favor of the measure.
The federal minimum wage bill has become a hot campaign topic ahead of the next round of Congressional elections. Democrats have portrayed GOP opposition to a minimum wage increase as proof of Republican disinterest in the working class poor.
Republicans point to a Congressional Budget Office report that found such an increase could cost the economy 500,000 jobs.