Report: Kentucky ranked 9th in the nation for public sector job losses

Kentucky is among a minority of states with double-digit losses in public sector jobs and some fear the numbers will get worse.
Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 8:09 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Tracking public sector job losses, a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows Kentuckians losing government jobs at a rate greater than in any neighboring states. Losses are attributed to declining revenues and disruptions from COVID-19.

Kentucky is among a minority of states with double-digit losses in public sector jobs and some fear the numbers will get worse.

“When you look at the number of months and the fact that we’re going to continue with this, it’s not like, OK we just need to hang on for another month or two, and then by the last quarter, we’re going to be able to recover. It’s not going to be that way,” David Smith, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said.

Using numbers from June’s National Jobs Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, EPI calculated the large majority of public job losses in Kentucky, with 72% of them coming from education budgets with a direct impact on local economies.

“When social workers and teachers and bus drivers no longer have the income to spend at local restaurants and hardware stores,” Jason Bailey, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Executive Director said, “there will be layoffs at those private businesses as well.”

State and local governments in Kentucky have cut more than 28,000 jobs since the coronavirus hit, according to EPI, a ten percent drop ranking Kentucky ninth in the nation. State and local leaders continue to appeal for more federal relief.

“Governor Beshear is calling for Congress to pass a budget stabilization bill for both state and local governments,” Beshear’s communication director, Crystal Staley, said. “The previous round of funding cannot be used for stabilization, meaning it cannot be used to support education or other critical needs of the commonwealth.”

Representative John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s only Democrat in Congress, accuses Republicans of failing to act on a proposal to send $970 billion more to state and local governments.

“If that number is too large, then the Republicans need to come back with another number,” Yarmuth said. “What Republicans have said so far is basically we don’t believe state and local governments need any help.”

A statement from Senator Mitch McConnell’s office said $1.7 billion has already been sent to state and local governments in Kentucky with $133 million going to Louisville.

“Governor Beshear and Mayor Fischer have not spent about 94% of the money Congress has already sent them,” the statement said.

“The funding will be fully expended by the deadline at the end of the year,” Jean Porter, the spokeswoman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said. “Given that health and economic issues will remain on January 1, 2021, it is imperative that Congress provide the additional assistance necessary to fund first responders working to contain this terrible pandemic.”

Porter said the city has not cut any positions due to COVID-19, and though she also explained that 119 employees are still on furlough, most are school traffic guards.

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