FRANKFORT

Kentucky incomes are on the rise, as is the number of many Kentucky jobs, according to a report on Fiscal Year 2017's fourth-quarter state revenues from the Office of State Budget Director.

Personal income, defined as wages and salaries along with income from investments and other sources, grew 4.2 percent in the last quarter of FY 17 which ended on June 30. It was the latest in a long growth stretch for personal income in Kentucky dating back three and half years, with growth in wages and salary income alone rising 4.7 percent for the quarter over the fourth quarter of FY 16.

And jobs? Well, there is growth there, too. Jobs in Kentucky increased 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter of FY 17 over the last quarter of FY 16. The fastest growing jobs sector was in information services, which grew 2.4 percent.

But Kentucky needs more jobs. Employment in the state is not growing at a robust level, with jobs actually falling by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of FY 17 over the previous quarter last fiscal year. It was the first quarterly drop in non-farm employment since the third quarter of FY 10, when the state was in the throes of the 2007 recession, per the report. Hit particularly hard has been the mining sector, which lost 600 jobs in the fourth quarter of FY 17 -- a decline of 6.4 percent over the same quarter in 2016.

Fortunately for Kentucky, the new fiscal year holds promise for job growth. The most growth in the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2018 will be in the leisure and hospitality services sector with over 5,000 jobs projected in the first nine months. Also expected to do well is construction (with an increase of 1,800 jobs) and manufacturing, which is projected to add nearly 3,000 jobs over the first three quarters. The construction growth, and some of the manufacturing growth, is largely due to the demand for home construction is today's healthy residential real estate market. Business services and educational services are also projected to have job gains or 3,200 and 2,700 jobs respectively.

What the Budget Director's report does not expect to change much is the job decline in our coal fields. Despite the speeches that everything will be great again under different leadership, Gov. Bevin's own people report that, and I quote, "mining employment is on pace to decline by an additional 4.9 percent ... showing little sign of revival for future production." Not exactly what our miners were promised, but that's what we're being told now.

We continue, as we have for several years, to bring new opportunities to our coal regions so workers and their families can live and work at home. That is my goal, and I promise to stick to it.

Southcentral Kentucky has certainly been a bright spot in the Commonwealth's economy. Income and job growth continues to be very robust in our part of the state. Many people are working hard to see that we continue to bring good-paying, family-supporting jobs to our region. Currently, you can see a "Help Wanted" sign on almost every street corner. Your legislature is working hard to see that we maintain our momentum here and that we extend the same opportunities for income growth throughout Kentucky.

As an addendum to last week's article on road projects, we are pleased with the two major road projects going on in Simpson County now. Hopefully these two major, current projects will be winding to a conclusion in 2018. Certainly, we still have more road work coming up.

We'll look at our state General Fund revenues and explore which revenue sources are growing and which ones are lacking next time around. Make it a good week, and we'll talk soon.

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