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Kentucky’s job opening rate is 2nd highest in nation

It’s another sign of the challenges facing Kentucky’s employers, new statistics show the Bluegrass State has the second highest job opening rate in the nation.
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:52 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - It’s another sign of the challenges facing Kentucky’s employers, new statistics show the Bluegrass State has the second highest job opening rate in the nation.

The 167,000 unfilled jobs in Kentucky translates into 8.2 percent of its workforce, according to new numbers out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only Alaska had a higher rate of unfilled jobs in August.

The good news is Kentucky’s job opening rate might have plateaued over the summer. The rate surged from 5.0 percent in August 2020 to a high of 8.9 percent this past June.

The high rate of job openings is compounded by the state leading the nation with the biggest increase in people quitting their jobs. The Bluegrass State was among 14 states where the “quit rate” increased in August.

An estimated 84,000 Kentuckians quit their jobs in August which was a 26,000 person increase compared to the previous month. The resignations translated into a 4.5-point quit rate in August. Kentucky’s quit rate was 3.1 in July.

The federal government cut off a $300-a-week supplement for unemployed Americans in September.

“Some folks remember, just wanted to say it was about unemployment. And the unemployment pay. You can’t get unemployment if you quit. So when you’re thinking about quitting, there’s something more complicated there that’s going on,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

Labor shortages have persisted longer than many economists expected, deepening a mystery at the heart of the job market.

“We are in a situation now where you can’t describe it with one particular issue. If you just increase wages to this particular amount, everything goes away, or if you just make this program invest more in this one program or make this one change the policy, we’re looking at a multifaceted approach to dealing with a very complex problem in Kentucky,” said Kate Shanks with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Companies are eager to add workers and have posted a near-record number of available jobs.

Unemployment remains elevated. The economy still has 5 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic. Yet, job growth slowed in August and September.

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