Kentucky’s jobless rate has fallen to 8.7 percent. That's according to February statistics released today by the Office of Employment and Training. Unemployment has been in a slow decline for eight consecutive months in the commonwealth. It's down from 1.1 percent a year ago. For February, seven of the state's eleven major nonfarm job sectors reported increases in employment.
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis has warned the state's 56,000 unemployment claimants they’ll soon be required to prove they’re looking for work. Davis says beginning in April, claimants also will be required to meet face-to-face with state job service employees. She says the new requirements will make sure claimants are on track to find employment and not get caught off-guard when their benefits expire. The U.S. Department of Labor issued the new guidelines.
For the past 14 years, the non-profit West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board has worked with the unemployed in our region to provide resources for those looking for new jobs. The WKWIB released a draft of their economic development plan for the next year this week. The board’s local director Shelia Clark says the WIB’s main goal is to provide training for recently laid off workers and other’s who are unemployed.
A bill designed to help pay federal interest payments is one step closer to becoming law. The measure passed the House unanimously today, although a few Republicans expressed concerns over the bill. The bill would let the state borrow money to help make federal interest payments on a loan Kentucky took out during the recession. The state borrowed more than $900 billion to help pay for unemployment insurance, but didn’t account for interest payments. If the state is late on payments, the federal government can put a higher tax on employers to recoup the funds.
A compromise to help employers avoid high federal unemployment insurance taxes has easily cleared a House committee.
The proposal would allow Kentucky to borrow money from a bank or other organization to repay federal loans. Kentucky borrowed nearly one billion dollars from the federal government to pay for unemployment insurance during the recession.
Up until now, the state had no plan on how to keep up with interest payments on that loan. If the state is late on payments, the federal government can put a higher tax on employers to recoup the funds.