Louisville’s economy has outperformed the state and nation in jobs and wage growth since the bottom of the recession, according to a new analysis for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
From June 2009 to June 2015, Louisville saw job growth of 10.7 percent, besting eight other Kentucky regions and the state and national averages, which were 7.4 percent and 8.4 percent.
Wages and salaries during that period jumped by 26.6 percent in Louisville, again better than the other eight state regions identified by the report’s author, Paul Coomes, who is the chamber’s senior consulting economist. Wages rose 21.6 percent across the state and 24.5 percent in the nation.
Coomes identified as other key findings:
- More than half of the state’s 1.85 million wage and salary jobs were in Louisville and Lexington regions.
- Nearly half of the job growth occurred in just two counties, Jefferson and Fayette.
- The state now has 20,000 more jobs than it had at the peak of the last expansion, in 2007.
- Northern Kentucky and Louisville regions have a greater share of adults working than the national average, but the share in the state as a whole continues to lag the national average 58 percent. The state’s mountain regions perform particularly poorly in this measure, at 37 percent, with Martin County having the lowest share in the state, at 25 percent.
- Workers in the state earned an average $10,700 in the second quarter, about $1,900 less than the national average.
- The state had 241,000 manufacturing jobs as of June and has added those types of jobs three times as fast as the national average.
Coomes said in a conference call last week that since the bottom of the recession Kentucky had stronger job and wage growth than all border states except Indiana and Tennessee.
Chamber officials said that they believe Indiana and Tennessee performed better in part because they are so-called right-to-work states, meaning they have passed legislation that prevents labor unions from requiring that new employees pay union dues. Critics argue, however, that such legislation leads to declining union membership and lower wages.
New Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin wants the state to pass right-to-work legislation.
Coomes also said most of the jobs growth in Kentucky has come from the distribution sector. Wages in Kentucky are lower in some other states in part because Kentucky gets lots of assembly work — but misses out on a lot of higher-wage professional jobs, including research and development, which pay two to three times as much as assembly jobs.