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Kentucky economy rebounding, but workforce issues remain


While coronavirus remains an ongoing health problem in Kentucky life, the state’s economy is moving forward. A central Kentucky economic think tank organization is offering its assessment of the current situation.

In line with the Labor Day Holiday, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy released its “State of Working Kentucky 2022” report. Dustin Pugel is the Center’s policy director. He said the Commonwealth’s job recovery is the most robust on record. But, Pugel said it’s not the same for all sectors.

“The private sector is actually back to where it was before the pandemic. The public sector is still well below and that’s mostly from state and local governments here in Kentucky,” said Pugel.

Pugel said men have recovered to pre-pandemic levels of employment, but women are far behind and Black Kentucky workers make up an outsized number of unemployment claimants. He said many have been laid off.

Pugel noted federal recovery funds don’t provide long-term support. The policy director added a portion of those funds have been critical in maintaining childcare services

In state government, Pugel said work remains to make the cost of living increases, improve benefits, and fix pay scale shortcomings. He said the legislature, which approved pay raises for state workers this year, appears interested in taking additional steps to aid public workers.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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