The unemployment rate has risen over the past year in 96 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Data from the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training shows that the statewide unemployment rate for November was up slightly over last year at 7.7%, with an increase of three-tenths of a percent.
Workforce Development Cabinet Economist Manoj Shanker says the increase reflects a particularly devastating year for Eastern Kentucky communities, which have the highest unemployment rates in Kentucky.
Shanker says the coal industry has declined as natural gas fracking became more widespread.
“The coal economy has been in transition for at least 15 years. I mean, the writing has been on the wall. It became starker three years ago, when suddenly fracking took place, and we had cheap natural gas and cheap oil, through fracking. And that’s really sounded the death knell for coal, and that happened almost two years ago.”
Shanker says because the bottom has completely fallen out of the coal industry, he expects the numbers to improve next year.