Describing the many ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic affected Kentucky’s economy, the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) — the applied economic research branch of the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky — released its 49th Kentucky Annual Economic Report today.
The report is one of the many ways CBER fulfills its mandated mission as specified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes to examine various aspects of the Kentucky economy. CBER performs research projects for federal, state and local government agencies, as well as for private sector and nonprofit clients nationwide.
The report covers a variety of issues ranging from a discussion of the COVID-19 recession to a comprehensive presentation of agricultural, community, economy, economic security, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, innovation, population and public finance factors affecting Kentucky’s future economic prosperity.
“Many people, from business leaders to politicians to citizens, will find relevant information in the annual report,” Michael Clark, director of CBER, said.
According to the report, as of October, the state had recovered 67% of jobs lost during the first months of the pandemic. But the recovery remains far from complete. Kentucky’s employment was still down 107,600 jobs — or 5.5% — from January 2020.
“The number of jobs lost due to COVID-19, and the speed with which it happened, was stunning,” Clark explained. “These job losses had wide-ranging implications, such as widening the racial employment gap, reducing families’ ability to pay for housing, increasing reliance on social programs and reducing child care options for working parents.”
There are more than 100 trends, forces and factors affecting Kentucky’s economy presented in the report. This includes several county- and regional-level comparisons of earnings and employment; county-level analyses of the social determinants of health as well as social capital; updated research results on Kentucky’s educational position relative to other states; and an updated analysis of Kentucky’s state finances compared to other states. In short, throughout this report there is new and important information, data and analysis on Kentucky’s economic situation.
“Coronavirus was certainly the main economic story of 2020 and will continue to affect the economy for some time. However, Kentucky continues to face many of the same challenges that existed prior to the pandemic, including workforce development, labor force participation and racial disparities. In many ways, the pandemic has magnified these challenges,” Clark continued. “We consistently note the importance of education to address these issues and shape Kentucky’s long-term economic and social well-being. This has never been more true. Investing in education and training increases productivity, raises wages, improves health and reduces economic insecurity.”
“A strategic priority of the Gatton College is to increase external engagement and promote economic growth in Kentucky,” Dean Simon Sheather added. “Our goal with this report is to help inform business and community leaders as they consider how to address challenges throughout the Commonwealth — with the hope it will improve household incomes, individual health and the overall well-being of our citizens.”
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