jobs

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Kentucky’s leaders are grappling with how to get more of the state’s residents into the labor force. 

In 2015, the commonwealth ranked 46th in the nation for its workforce participation rate, according to Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner.  The rate is determined by the number of adults between the ages of 21 and 65 who are able to work.

Kentucky Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey says employers are frustrated that too many prospective workers can’t pass drug tests.

"Of the worst 220 counties in America, 54 of those counties are here in the state of Kentucky, where the drug scourge and epidemic is just sucking the life out of us, if you would," Ramsey told WKU Public Radio.

Kentucky has about 130,000 able-bodied residents who choose not to work.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Governor Matt Bevin’s administration is counting on a growing apprenticeship program to help fill Kentucky’s future workforce needs.

More than 1,100 Kentucky employers are currently partnering with the state to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Apprenticeships allow high school upperclassmen and those who have a GED to gain on-the-job training tailored to a company’s needs.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey is touring the state in an effort to encourage more companies and schools to participate in the effort. He says a wide variety of skills can be learned through the program.

“When we talk about the skills, and when we talk about the apprenticeships, we're not only talking about construction--road construction, building construction,” Ramsey said in Bowling Green Wednesday. “We're talking about I.T.--we're apprenticing that, as well. We're talking about health care."

Ramsey says those learning blue-collar skills in the apprenticeship program could help build the next generation of roads and bridges in the commonwealth.

Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

Trade has emerged as a potent issue this election season, with the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a flash point in the political debate. The stakes are high for the Ohio Valley region, where thousands of workers and billions of dollars in goods could be affected by the outcome of this trade agreement.

Very different sides of the trade story can be found at  two manufacturing companies in southern Kentucky: conveyer-belt maker Span-Tech and auto parts maker Trace Die Cast.

These businesses are just 30 miles from each other, but when it comes to their views on trade, they’re worlds apart. Their differences can tell us a lot about why trade is such a contentious issue and what it means for our region.

GE Lighting

General Electric Lighting has announced it will close two plants in Lexington and Somerset by August 2017.

WKYT-TV reports that the company announced the closures of Lexington Lamp Plant and Somerset Glass Plant would affect over 200 people.

The Lexington plant makes traditional, non-LED lighting products and employs 139 people. The Somerset plant makes halogen lamps and employs 71 people.

GE says in a statement that consumer demand for traditional lighting is at an all-time low. As a result, the company says it is operating at 15 percent capacity.

GE says the local union representing the workers has 60 days to ask for a different plan.

Report: Kentucky Coal Jobs Hit Lowest Level Since 1898

Aug 4, 2016
Erica Peterson

Officials believe there are fewer coal jobs in Kentucky than there have been in more than 115 years.

News outlets report that a quarterly report from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet reveals that the number of coal jobs statewide dropped by 6.9 percent from April to June of this year.

In western Kentucky, coal jobs dropped 7.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016 while the number of jobs in the state's eastern region dropped 6.1 percent during that same time.

As of July 1, the estimated number of coal jobs remaining in Kentucky was 6,465, which officials say is the lowest mark since 1898.

A switch to natural gas, stricter federal regulations on coal designed to preserve the environment and the advance of renewable energy have contributed to the industry's plunge.

Pixabay

You are Letcher County, Kentucky. You are rural, mountainous, and in the heart of the central Appalachian coalfields. Your economy is not in good shape. Fox News has called your largest town “the poster child for the war on coal.” You are offered funds to build a new federal prison. It could bring jobs but also brings up troubling moral issues. What do you do?

Call it the prison builder’s dilemma: Letcher County and other rural areas are wrestling with a choice between a potential economic boost and the ethical burden of becoming the nation’s jailers.

Coalfield economies have been hit hard by the industry’s recent decline and Eastern Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District has been among the most affected. Today it has the second-lowest median household income in the country, and the second-lowest rate of labor force participation.

In recent years, a big chunk of the money flowing into the region has come through the Bureau of Prisons. Three federal penitentiaries have been built in the district, and now, money has been set aside to build a fourth — in Letcher County.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky is working on a multimillion-dollar plan to bring broadband internet to the eastern part of the state, home to some of the country’s most impoverished places. A federal report released this year found that from around a third to nearly half of rural residents in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia lack high-speed internet and the job opportunities that come with it. But a few areas are ahead of the curve. In Kentucky’s Jackson and Owsley Counties, broadband has already arrived and is already creating jobs.

With a population of 1,095, Annville, Kentucky is one of the bigger towns in Jackson County. It’s surrounded by grassy fields and rolling hills, which are the inspiration for the county’s tourism slogan: “Where the Mountains and the Bluegrass Blend.

It’s not easy to find a job in Jackson County. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Most people who have jobs work outside the county. For Annville resident Alisha Tanfield, those long costly commutes made it hard to make ends meet. “After you pay gas, you’re not making anything,” she said.

If you’re barely getting by and your livelihood depends on a long commute, car troubles can create a major crisis. When Tanfield’s car broke down she lost what income she had and found herself struggling to provide for her two daughters. Then Tanfield heard about a friend who had found a work-from-home job through the Teleworks USA job board. Tanfield says she’d always been curious about work-from-home jobs but hadn’t tried applying for any because she thought a lot of them are scams.

EVINE Live Expands in Bowling Green

May 12, 2015

The digital commerce company will double its size and add 150 new jobs over the next three years.

The expansion project, which began last year, includes the addition of more than 300,000 square feet at their Nashville Road distribution and call center. Over the next three years, the project will bring in a total capital investment of $25 million and create up to 150 new, full-time positions. That will bring the total number of employees to over 500.

The total economic impact of the expansion project will be more than $100 million over the next ten years.

EVINE Live merges entertainment with shopping in an interactive experience. It's available in more than 88 million U.S. homes in addition to on-line, mobile and social media availability.

The unemployment rates in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties declined from March 2014 to March 2015, but only a few actually saw an increase in employment over the past few years.

Only 28 Kentucky counties have more people employed in March 2015 than in March 2007, according to a recent analysis by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Job growth has been concentrated in parts of Kentucky with industries that have enjoyed recoveries in the wake of the recession—namely, healthcare, education and the auto industry, said Jason Bailey, the executive director of KCEP.

“We have a very uneven recovery, a recovery where wealthy parts of the state, places that have more infrastructure, more connections to industries that are growing and recovering are seeing job growth,” Bailey said.

Scott County, near Lexington, saw the largest growth with a 16 percent increase in the number of people employed.

A Bowling Green manufacturer is expanding, adding 30 new jobs.

KapStone Containter Corporation is investing $4.5 million in the project, which will modernize the facility and upgrade equipment. KapStone manufactures paper packaging containers, and employs 112 full-time workers at its Bowling Green facility.

Governor Steve Beshear announced the expansion plans Thursday in Warren County.

Beshear Thursday also announced a $400,000 expansion at a metal stamping manufacturer in Stanford. The Lincoln Manufacturing plant is adding 20 jobs and adding a third shift to its operations in Lincoln County.

Ft. Knox

Veterans and their dependents are being encouraged to attend a military jobs fair at Fort Knox Thursday. The Hardin County military post is hosting about 70 organizations that are looking to hire veterans and their spouses.

Jake Hutchings is director of the group Civilianjobs.com, which is overseeing the event. He says veterans should be prepared to explain how their military service can translate into success at a corporate workforce.

“How do you take that 15-year, 20-year career—or even a five-year career with a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan--and compartmentalize that down to two minutes of, ‘hey, this is what I’ve done in the service, these are the skills I’ve learned, and this is the value I bring to your organization’? So if there’s a veteran out there listening, that’s the first place to start.”

Hutchings says many civilian employers have come to appreciate the leadership and technical skills many veterans possess. Hutchings is himself a veteran, and says employers are seeking out veterans out of respect, not pity.

A Hart County manufacturer is announcing plans to expand its facility and add jobs. Dart Container announced today that it will invest $23 dollars to build a new 650,000 square foot warehouse in Horse Cave.

Up to 30 new jobs are expected to be created through the expansion.

Dart Container currently employs approximately 1,400 people at its Hart County operation, where it manufactures cups, bowls, plates, and other food and beverage supplies.

The Michigan-based Dart Container Corporation has been preliminarily approved for $900,000 in state tax incentives and benefits in connection with the project.

Kentucky Growing Jobs But Wages Not Keeping Up

Jun 27, 2014

Most regions of Kentucky are adding jobs, but most of those jobs don't pay very much according to a recent analysis by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

University of Louisville economist Paul Coomes said four of the the state's nine regions are above the national average in terms of job growth. But the average pay per job in all nine regions was lower than the national average.

Northern Kentucky had the highest growth in average pay at 18%, while the mountain region in eastern Kentucky had no growth at all. The national average for wage growth since the last recession is about 23%.

Coomes will expand on his report during a July 22nd speech during the Chamber's annual meeting in Louisville.

MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company recently acquired the dry kiln facility, Kerr Forest Products, in Bowling Green. Now, the company has been approved for incentives, with plans to invest $2.6 million and create 18 full-time positions.

The hardwood lumber company already has locations on Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  The company serves a world-wide customer base, offering a product line of more than twenty different species of kiln dried lumber as well as custom drying, planing and sanding.

Owner and CEO David Twite says the move to Bowling Green will allow MacDonald & Owen to extend their global reach through the close proximity to materials and freight options. The company is expecting to produce an additional five million board feet of hardwood lumber annually focusing on high quality Appalachian hardwoods.

This is the second economic development announcement for Bowling Green this year. It brings total capital investment to nearly $153,000 and the creation of 90 new jobs.

Champion Petfoods USA Inc. plans to open its first U. S. kitchen in Logan County, creating 147 new jobs and an $85 million investment. The company specializes in in "Biologically Appropriate" pet foods using fresh local ingredients. It's headquartered in Alberta, Canada.

Champion's ORIJEN and ACANA dog and cat food brands feature unique, fresh regional ingredients. They're sold in more than 70 countries. The company does not outsource food production and makes all of its products in its own kitchens. The $85 million investment will go toward building a kitchen in Auburn with construction set to begin this summer.

Company executives say Logan County's agricultural heritage and proximity to ranches and farms makes its location a good fit. In a release, Governor Beshear said, "not only will Champion Petfoods bring vital agricultural jobs to the region, but it will also create a new customer base for nearby farmers and ranchers."

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives of up to $8.7 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. KEDFA also approved Champion for tax benefits of up to $1.3 million through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.

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