HAZARD – Jobless rates in 72 of the state’s 120 counties decreased in the past 12 months, but continued to inch upwards in the 42 of the remaining counties, including many in Eastern Kentucky.
Perry County was one of only six where rates remained the same from July 2012 to July 2013, the latter representing the latest figures from the state Office of Employment and Training. Perry County recorded a rate of 13.1 percent in July, with an estimated civilian labor force of 11,947 people. The county’s rate was actually down from 14 percent in June.
Within the eight-county Kentucky River Area Development District, Breathitt, Owsley, and Lee counties all recorded decreases in joblessness when compare to one year ago. Owsley County, which stood at 11.4 percent unemployment in July 2012, dropped to 10.8 percent this year, which is the lowest in the Kentucky River district. Breathitt dropped from 13.4 percent to 12.8, while Lee dropped from 13.2 to 12.9.
Knott, Leslie, and Letcher counties all saw increases in local unemployment, with Leslie recording the highest rate at 16.9 percent, which was up from 14.8 percent in July 2012. Knott County increased to 15 percent, while Letcher increased from 14.8 percent in 2012 to 16.3 percent this year.
Wolfe County’s rate of 13.5 percent matches last year’s rate.
Other eastern coal counties also saw increases, however, including Floyd (11.8), Harlan (17.2), and Pike (10.7) over the past year.
Statewide, Woodford County recorded the lowest rate of joblessness at 5.8 percent, followed by Fayette County at 6.4 percent.
The highest rates were recorded in the eastern part of the state, with Harlan’s rate of 17.2 percent the highest statewide. With the exception of Fulton County, each of the bottom 10 counties in the state are located in Eastern Kentucky, with four located in the Kentucky River district.