New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky with one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. The figures are part of the bureau’s latest American Community Survey which was released Thursday.
Kentucky had the fifth-highest percentage of residents living in poverty in 2012, behind only Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. A little more than 823,000 Kentuckians, or 19.4 percent of the state’s population, suffer through poverty. That represents a 0.3 percent increase in the commonwealth’s poverty rate since 2011.
By comparison, Tennessee’s poverty rate stood at 17.9 percent in 2012, an improvement of 0.4 percent over 2011. The poverty rate in Indiana was 15.6 percent, which was also an improvement of 0.4 percent.
There was at least one bit of good news for the Bluegrass State in the latest survey. Kentucky is one of just three states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of private health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2012.
You can see a report containing the latest American Community Survey data on poverty in the U.S here.
The state unemployment rate declined slightly in August despite significant job losses in some key labor market sectors.
The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training reported Thursday that the rate fell to 8.4 percent, down from 8.5 percent in July.
State economist Manoj Shanker said the trade, transportation and utilities sector shed 2,100 jobs in August. The financial services sector lost 700 jobs. The government sector fell by 500 positions. The information sector, which includes newspapers, lost another 500 workers. And the mining and logging sector declined by another 100.
Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says that while it feels like "slogging through mud", the area economy is slowly starting to turn around.
However, Wilkerson told WKU Public Radio the city is still subject to manufacturing job losses that can have a big impact on its labor force.
"In a community our size, when something like Eagle Industries shuts down and puts 275 people out of work, we feel that hit. Fruit of the Loom has decided to reduce its workforce by close to 100 this year, and those are 100 good-paying jobs that are very meaningful to our economy. So when they're gone, we notice it," Wilkerson said.
Recent data compiled by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet show the Bowling Green Metropolitan Statistical Area with a seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 7.5 percent for the month of July, which is two-tenths of a percentage point below the national jobless figure.
Top state budget staffers are predicting meager revenue growth over the next two years in the General Fund and a slight decline in the Road Fund, largely because of Kentucky's slow rebound from economic recession.
Government financial analyst Greg Harkenrider told a group of Kentucky's top economists on Thursday that collections from the individual income tax, the state's top revenue producer, is projected to rise between 1.6 percent and 4 percent in the next two fiscal years. That would help to offset projected declines in the coal severance tax and the cigarette tax.
Those latest projections were presented Thursday to economists serving on the Consensus Forecasting Group, a panel charged with predicting long-term state government revenues.