Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Releases August 2023 Unemployment Report

FRANKFORT, KY — Kentucky's seasonally adjusted preliminary August 2023 unemployment rate was 4%, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet (KELC).

The preliminary August 2023 jobless rate was up 0.1 percentage point from July 2023 and was unchanged from one year ago.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate for August 2023 was 3.8%, which was up 0.3 percentage points from July 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, are based upon estimates from the Current Population Survey of households. The survey is designed to measure trends in the number of people working and includes jobs in agriculture and individuals who are self-employed.

Kentucky's civilian labor force was 2,048,953 in August 2023, a decrease of 3,843 individuals from July 2023. The number of people employed in August fell by 6,679 to 1,966,987 while the number unemployed increased by 2,836 to 81,966.

"Kentucky's unemployment rate edged up in August as more people reported that they were looking for work" said University of Kentucky's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) Director Mike Clark, Ph.D. "August's estimates also indicate that fewer people held jobs and the number of people in the labor force dropped slightly. While the unemployment rate has increased in recent months, it still remains at low levels historically."

In a separate federal survey of business establishments that excludes jobs in agriculture and people who are self-employed, Kentucky's seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 8,300 jobs to 2,023,900 in August 2023 compared to July 2023. Kentucky's nonfarm employment was up 51,200 jobs or 2.6% compared to August 2022.

"While the household survey suggests that the tight labor market we've experienced over the past couple of years might have eased in recent months, the employer survey for August indicates that businesses are still hiring," said Clark. "Payroll employment has increased by 6,000 per month so far this year, which compares favorably to the average of 1,700 jobs per month added from 2010 to 2019."

Nonfarm data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Employment Statistics program. According to the survey, employment increased for eight of Kentucky's major nonfarm North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) job sectors in August 2023 and decreased for three.

Employment in the government sector rose by 3,300 from July 2023 to August 2023. Employment increased by 200 in federal government; decreased by 700 in state government; and increased by 3,800 jobs in local government. The total number of government jobs rose by 9,100 positions or 3.1% compared to August 2022.

Construction employment jumped by 2,200 jobs or 2.5% from July to August 2023 and was up 7,700 positions or 9.2% from one year ago.

"Construction employment has shown strong and consistent growth since the beginning of the year," said Clark. "This is despite higher interest rates, which typically slow demand in the construction sector."

The leisure and hospitality sector added 1,300 positions from July 2023 to August 2023, representing a gain of 0.7%. This sector reported 4,300 more jobs in August than one year ago. Employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation subsector grew by 300 jobs from July to August. The accommodations and food services subsector added 1,000 jobs in August.

The educational and health services sector increased by 1,000 positions in August 2023. Employment in the health care and social assistance subsector added 1,200 jobs in August while the educational services subsector fell by 200 jobs. Since last August, this sector has grown by 14,200 jobs or 4.9%.

Employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector rose by 800 from July to August and was up 6,000 jobs or 1.4% compared to a year ago. The wholesale trade subsector added 400 jobs in August and the retail subsector added 1,200 jobs. These gains were partially offset by a loss of 800 jobs in the transportation, warehousing and utilities subsector.

The other services sector saw employment rise by 400 jobs from July to August. This sector had 2,400 more positions in August 2023 compared to August 2022. This sector includes repairs and maintenance, personal care services and religious organizations.

Kentucky's manufacturing sector grew by 200 jobs from July 2023 to August 2023. Employment rose by 900 jobs in durable goods manufacturing but fell by 700 jobs in non-durable goods manufacturing. Kentucky's manufacturing employment was up 9,000 positions or 3.5% since August 2022.

Employment in the financial activities sector added 100 jobs August 2023. Employment was up by 600 jobs in the finance and insurance subsector from July to August and down 500 jobs in the real estate, rental and leasing subsector. The sector decreased by 3,700 positions compared to last August.

The number of jobs in the state's mining and logging sector fell by 100 from July to August. This sector had 300 more jobs compared to August 2022.

Employment in Kentucky's information services sector was down 100 jobs from July to August. The industries in this sector include traditional publishing as well as software publishing; motion pictures and broadcasting; and telecommunications. The number of jobs in this sector grew by 400 or 1.8% from one year ago.

Kentucky's professional and business services sector lost 800 jobs or 0.3% in August 2023. Employment increased by 600 jobs in the professional, scientific and technical services subsector. The management of companies subsector added 100 jobs. Employment in the administrative, support and waste management subsector fell by 1,500 from July to August. The sector has increased by 1,500 jobs or 0.7% since August 2022.

Civilian labor force statistics include nonmilitary workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks.

Kentucky's statewide unemployment rate and employment levels are seasonally adjusted. Employment statistics undergo sharp fluctuations due to seasonal events, such as weather changes, harvests, holidays, and school openings and closings. Seasonal adjustments eliminate these influences and make it easier to observe statistical trends. However, due to the small sample size, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

To learn more about Kentucky labor market information, visit

August 2023 Unemployment Rate Chart
August 2023 Employment Chart



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