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Kentucky Manufacturing Employment Edges Up

Contact: Jennifer Ratcliff
Manufacturers' News, Inc.
(847) 864-9440 ext. 241
jratcliff [at]

EVANSTON, Ill, December 28th, 2017/Manufacturers' News, Inc./-- Kentucky’s industrial employment inched up over the past twelve months, as losses in the coal mining sector slowed and transportation equipment added jobs, reports MNI (Manufacturers' News, Inc.) Evanston, IL. According to MNI’s database of manufacturers, Kentucky added 1,090 manufacturing jobs between October 2016 and October 2017, amounting to a half percent gain.

Kentucky’s 4,702 industrial companies employ 288,804 in the state, reports MNI. Kentucky saw five straight years of industrial employment growth between October 2010 and October 2015, largely led by the auto industry. However, the state broke its winning streak during the 2015-2016 survey period, losing jobs for the first time since the recession, following a massive 19% employment loss in coal mining. However, declines in Kentucky’s coal mining sector slowed over the past year, down 3.2%, while continued gains in the auto industry helped to offset losses.

“Labor costs in Kentucky are among the lowest in the nation, and this has helped the state’s auto industry thrive and continue to add jobs,” says Tom Dubin, President of the Evanston, IL-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. “However, cheap labor often does not equate to skilled labor, and the state struggles to maintain a workforce that can offer manufacturers the skills needed for today’s advanced manufacturing.”

Employment in transportation equipment climbed 2.4% over the year. That sector remains Kentucky’s top industry by number of industrial jobs, employing 57,597. New data suggests transportation equipment should continue to thrive in the years to come with the establishment of GM’s new Corvette plant in Bowling Green and Aleris’ automotive body factory in Lewisport. Additional boons to the state’s auto industry included Toyota’s massive $1.3 billion investment at its Camry plant; Ford’s expansion of its SUV line in Louisville, as well as the planned expansions of two Tower Automotive plants in Shepherdsville and Bardstown.

Other industries adding jobs in Kentucky included electronics, up 6.8%; furniture/fixtures, up 5.1%; instruments/related products, up 3.4%; fabricated metals, up 2.1%; and chemicals, up 1%. Food processing, the state’s second-largest sector by number of industrial jobs, saw employment inch up a third of a percent to 34,349 workers.

Kentucky’s manufacturing job gains would have been larger if not for losses in the coal industry, as well as textiles/apparel, down 4%; primary metals, down 3%; printing/publishing, down 2.2%; rubber/plastics, down 2%; and stone/clay/glass, down 1.6%.

Industrial locations announcing closures in Kentucky included GE Lighting, which shuttered two facilities in Lexington and Somerset; Gerdau’s steel mill in Calvert City; and Johnson Controls’ Shelbyville plant.

MNI’s geographical data indicates job gains were spread out across most of Kentucky’s regions, with jobs up a half percent in Northeast Kentucky to 166,423, up 1.1% in Southwest Kentucky to 45,959 workers, and up 1.2% in the Northwest to 36,003. Southeast Kentucky was the only region to lose jobs, down 1.3% to 40,419.

City data collected by MNI shows Louisville ranks first in the state for number of manufacturing jobs, with 63,528 workers, up 2.2% over the past year. Industrial jobs declined 2% in second-ranked Lexington to 17,642 workers, while employment in third-ranked Georgetown rose 2.6% to 10,844. Fourth-ranked Florence accounts for 10,656 workers, up 4.3%, while Bowling Green ranks fifth with 9,855 jobs, down 1.1%.

Established in 1912, MNI is the nation’s oldest and largest compiler of industrial information, offering tailored solutions to help customers connect with 430,000 manufacturers and suppliers. MNI’s industrial marketplace IndustryNet: is a one-stop resource that connects buyers with suppliers of 10,000 + products and services, and allows users to obtain competitive quotes, create and view company profiles, post company news releases, photos, videos, job openings, and more. MNI’s subscription service EZ Select: provides access to MNI’s live interactive database of manufacturers. For more information, contact MNI at 847-864-7000 or visit
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