State releases annual county unemployment data for 2019

EDITOR'S NOTE: A link to Kentucky county unemployment rate charts is above.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 20, 2020) - Annual unemployment rates decreased in 62 Kentucky counties in 2019 compared to 2018, rose in 39 counties and stayed the same in 19 counties, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The annual jobless rate for Woodford County was the lowest in the Commonwealth in 2019 at 3.1 percent. It was followed by Fayette and Oldham counties, 3.3 percent each; Boone and Shelby counties, 3.4 percent each; Campbell and Scott counties, 3.5 percent each; and Kenton, Jessamine and Spencer counties, 3.6 percent each.

Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest annual unemployment rate in 2019 at 11 percent. It was followed by Harlan County, 9.6 percent; Lewis County, 8.9 percent; Carter County, 8.3 percent; Elliott and Leslie counties, 8.2 percent each; Breathitt County, 7.5 percent; Letcher County, 7.4 percent; Lawrence and Wolfe counties, 7.1 percent each. In 2019, Magoffin County remained the only county to have had an annual rate at or above 10 percent.

In contrast to the monthly national and state data, unemployment statistics for counties are not seasonally adjusted. The comparable, unadjusted annual state unemployment rate for the state was 4.3 percent for 2019, and 3.7 percent for the nation. For more information regarding seasonal fluctuations, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at In 2019, 80 counties were above the comparable, unadjusted annual state unemployment of 4.3 percent for the state, while 38 were below the state unadjusted rate and two (Harrison and Taylor counties) were the same rate.

Compared to the national unadjusted 2019 annual rate of 3.7 percent, 107 Kentucky counties had higher 2019 annual rates, while 10 were lower and three (Anderson, Franklin and Henry counties) matched it.

Counties with the largest decline in annual unemployment rates from 2018 to 2019 were Magoffin County, -1.9 percentage points; Ballard County, -1.3 percentage points; Elliott and Wayne counties, -1.2 percentage points each; Livingston County, -1.1 percentage points; and Morgan County, -1 percentage point.

The counties that recorded the largest increases in annual unemployment rates from 2018 to 2019 were Harlan County, +2.3 percentage points; Leslie County, +1.1 percentage points; Letcher County, +1 percentage point; Hart County, +0.7 percentage points; and Lewis, Metcalfe and Simpson counties, +0.6 percentage points each.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military 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. The statistics in this news release are not seasonally adjusted to allow for comparisons between United States, state and counties figures. The statistics in this news release may be revised in the future.

Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at

Learn more about the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet at

Contact: Patrick Harp

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