Several counties in our listening area continue to post unemployment rates below the statewide level. The January jobs numbers have been released by the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
Simpson County’s unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, as compared to the 8.3 percent mark for the state. County Judge Executive Jim Henderson says Simpson County has come a long way since 2008-2009, when the auto industry felt the effects of the recession.
“That pendulum swings both ways because, actually, automotive sales are now back at record levels and improving. That’s where some of that growth is occurring here is in the automotive industry," said Henderson. "But, diversification is really important for a community, so we’re not dependent on one sector of the economy to do well.”
A check of other counties in the area shows Warren County’s unemployment rate was at seven percent in January. Daviess county was at 6.9 percent. Edmonson and Muhlenberg counties were both above the statewide average at 11.7 and 10 percent, respecitvely.
The Simpson County, Kentucky school district is requiring all students be college or career ready before getting their high school diploma.
The state measures college and career readiness through various tests and credential students can earn, but it’s not a requirement to graduate statewide.
Simpson County Schools Superintendent Jim Flynn says if his students don’t meet the mark, there are safety nets built into the policy.
“They could go out and show their welding skills, do something that benefits the community that proves even though they didn’t hit a benchmark on some kind of standardized test that they can still contribute positively to the community," said Flynn.
Last year only 30 percent of Simpson County students were college and career ready. Flynn says he expects that number to jump to 75 percent when results are released this week.
A group of Franklin-Simpson High School students got a welcome surprise Friday morning.
Those students are taking dual-credit classes at the Southcentral Kentucky Community and Techical College campus in Franklin and were on campus Friday for their fall semester orientation. They also learned that they won't have to pay any tuition for the upcoming academic year.
Those tuition costs are being covered by the Simpson County On-Track Scholarship Fund.
SKYCTC Franklin-Simpson Center Director James McCaslin says the scholarship program is a combined effort of five groups.
"They've each contributed a certain amount of money for this particular year, but our anticipation is that once we show the results of it, that this time next year they'll be willing to put up another set amount of money," said McCaslin.
A new distribution and manufacturing facility in Franklin plans to add 40 new jobs over the next few years. MultiTech Industries creates springs, wire forms, machined components, and other parts for automotive manufacturers.
MultiTech will occupy a 32,000-square-foot spec building in the Sanders Interstate Industrial Park in Simpson County.
The company will initially employ ten workers, and says it wants to add up to 40 positions over time.
The incoming president of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents says he fully backs efforts to increase the state's dropout age to 18.
Simpson County Superintendent Jim Flynn told WKU Public Radio he thinks some kids drop out because they know they aren't going to college. But Flynn believes the state is starting to do a better of identifying ways to help those not going into postsecondary education.
"Now that the state is focusing on multiple pathways into career and college readiness, it gives some students that may feel a little left out when the focus was simply on college readiness and proficiency only," says Flynn.
Flynn takes over as head of the state's Association of School Superintendents at the group's summer meeting this week in Bowling Green.
Future of Education Funding?
Flynn is hopeful that the state's improving economic outlook will boost chances for increased education funding.