Business report says 43% of Kentuckians choose not to work
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky Chamber published a report Friday, titled “20 years in the making: Kentucky’s workforce crisis.” The report brings hard numbers that show the state lags behind in most economic metrics.
Pandemic shutdowns made many Kentuckians lose their jobs, but the report suggests a good portion of the state called it quits for good last year.
“Like many things over the last 18 months, COVID has really heightened many inequities that we already had in Kentucky,” chamber president Ashli Watts said. “Workforce is definitely on the top of that list.”
The Kentucky Chamber Foundation is the state’s largest business association. Using labor statistics, the report paints a dark picture of Kentucky’s slide in workforce. For the past 20-years, the state has steadily lost workers, and COVID only sped up the process.
Now, 43% of adults in the state are not working, or looking for a job. This number makes Kentucky number 48 for participation - Only ahead of West Virginia and Mississippi.
Although 43% seems like a debilitating number for the economy, it makes more sense when you break it down by age range. 74% of people ages 20-64 chose to work.
The report suggests several factors that lead to people not working - lack of job training, childcare availability, and the opioid crisis.
“Collectively, what we need to do is take a collective approach to deal with Kentucky’s workforce issues,” analyst Charles Aull said. “That’s really the only way we can start reversing some of these trends.”
The report suggested legislation targeting education, addiction treatment, and criminal justice reform, as key changes necessary for the state to grow.
“If those are things that we can do, that can greatly improve Kentucky’s competitiveness and overall economic prosperity.”
To see the full report, click or tap here.
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