jobs

Flickr/Creative Commons/Pete Prodoehl

A company that produces aluminum is adding more than 250 jobs and investing over $100 million to improve one of its smelters in Kentucky.

Gov. Matt Bevin announced Wednesday that Century Aluminum will invest roughly $116.5 million for improvements to the smelter in Hawesville and bring back more than 250 full-time jobs. In the fall 2015, Century closed three potlines and laid off about 320 workers at the smelter in a dispute over electricity prices.

Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET

China's leaders followed President Trump in taking another step toward a new trade war, announcing a plan to put steep tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. imports. China's proposed 25 percent tariffs would target a wide range of American products, from soybeans and whiskey to airplanes and cars.

"China currently buys about $14 billion worth of American soybeans each year — almost a third of the entire U.S. crop," NPR's Dan Charles reports for our Newscast unit. "Prices for U.S. soybeans tumbled by 3 to 5 percent" on the news, Dan adds.

Creative Commons

An indoor farming company plans to invest $44 million to grow produce on the site of a reclaimed mine in eastern Kentucky.

Hydroponic Farms USA says it will bring 121 jobs to the region, which has seen rising unemployment with the decline of eastern Kentucky’s coal industry.

Hydroponic Farms USA spokesman Trevor Terry said investors chose to build on the site of a former mine in Breathitt County for two reasons. First, the large, flat space the former mine provided was the perfect for a large indoor growing operation.

President Trump made coal jobs a core of his presidential campaign, repeatedly vowing to bring back "beautiful" coal despite the industry's decades-long decline. And in pockets of the U.S. during Trump's first year in office, it may well have felt like a turnaround was underway.

A review of data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows 1,001 more U.S. coal jobs last year compared with 2016, although energy analysts say the reasons are short term and have nothing to do with White House policies.

flickr/Brewbooks

Kentucky is out of the running in the fierce competition for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters.

Louisville hoped to gain the attention of the Seattle-based company, and the 50,000 jobs that would come with the project. But Louisville is not one of 20 cities on Amazon’s short list released this week.

Becca Schimmel

A financial technology company says Kentucky is home to three of the top 25 best places in the

U.S. to work in manufacturing. The list created by the company “Smart Asset” ranks the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area as the fifth-best place in the country for manufacturing jobs.

Owensboro was ranked 17th, and the Louisville metro area was 19th. The report says a little more than 17 percent of jobs in the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox region fall into the manufacturing category. That area has seen a 7 percent increase in manufacturing job growth over a one-year period.

An event this week in Bowling Green is aimed at giving past criminals a second chance while filling a few thousand job vacancies in the region. 

An expungement fair will be held Wednesday to help prospective workers with a criminal past wipe the slate clean.  The state legislature passed a bill last year allowing Kentuckians convicted of certain felonies, often drug offenses, to have their records expunged. 

Robert Boone heads the South Central Workforce Development Board and says a September screening event yielded 28 people considered work-ready.

Jeanna Glisson

The Kentucky Farm Bureau is hoping to raise awareness of the important role migrant labor plays in making the state’s agriculture system work.

Joe Cain is director of the bureau’s commodity division, and is the featured speaker at an event Tuesday night in Muhlenberg County.

He says he hopes any changes to the nation’s immigration laws will include updates to the H2A program, which allows agriculture employers to bring workers to the U.S. for seasonal work.

The U.S. economy shed 33,000 jobs in September, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while unemployment fell to 4.2 percent.

The September payrolls drop broke a nearly seven-year streak of continuous job gains, but economists caution that the drop is likely representing the short-term consequences of bad weather, not a long-term shift in the job market.

Before this report, the economy had added an average of about 175,000 jobs per month; the unemployment rate has been at 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Karen

The October ‘Open Jobs Report’ from the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce shows there are nearly 5,300 vacant positions in a 10-county region of South Central Kentucky.

The chamber launched the monthly jobs report in September as part of a regional snapshot in the effort to develop a trained workforce to keep up with the area’s healthy business growth.

Economic development leaders point to the increasing number of college and apprenticeship programs as the main avenue to meet the needs of businesses.

Some executives say many potential or new employees lack 'soft skills' like good communication or showing up to work on time. And some business leaders say many potential employees can’t pass the drug test required for employment.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

Rhonda J Miller

It’s a good sign of a healthy economy that businesses in the 10 counties of south central Kentucky have nearly 5,800 job openings and are eager to hire.

But a new report from the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce also shows there are about 7,200 people in the region who are unemployed.

Robert Boone is president and CEO of the South Central Workforce Development Board. He says finding compatibility between available workers and open positions is a big challenge.

Ohio County Economic Development Alliance

Ohio County is boosting its economic development, but not with a big manufacturing plant or a major expansion of an existing business. The county is launching a coworking space for entrepreneurs called The Hub on July 24.

The new business incubator called The Hub is in a renovated house on Peach Alley in the town of Hartford. It offers a workspace nestled in the rural environment of Ohio County, while connected to national or global businesses with fiber broadband.

A local entrepreneur, or one who wants to leave an urban environment, can work remotely from Ohio County and hold meetings through audio or video conferencing.

Erica Peterson

After being name-checked in two of President Donald Trump’s recent speeches, a new coal mine opened in Pennsylvania last week.

“Next week we’re opening a big coal mine,” Trump told supporters in Cincinnati. “You know about that. One in Pennsylvania. It’s actually a new mine. That hadn’t happen in a long time, folks. But we’re putting the people and we’re putting the miners back to work.”

The mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania is expected to employ about 70 coal miners. But while it may be cause for local celebration and useful for political rhetoric, it isn’t a harbinger of what’s to come in Kentucky.

GE Lighting

The General Electric glass plant in Somerset is beginning a phase-out of operations this month. The plant employs 71 people, and will close August 11.

A G.E. plant in Lexington that employs 139 people will also close on the same day. The lighting industry has seen a decline in sales for incandescent, halogen, and specialty linear fluorescent lamps. The Somerset facility makes halogen lamps, and the Commonwealth Journal reports the plant is operating at 70 percent below capacity.

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