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Manufacturing, healthcare hit hardest in county unemployment numbers

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on a surge of unemployment statewide, and a report from the Kentucky Center for Statistics, shows that the pandemic has resulted in more than 4,000 Boyle County residents filing initial unemployment claims, equating to nearly 32.5 percent of Boyle County’s civilian workforce.

During the time period of the study, ranging from March 15 to May 2, KYSTATS reported 4,045 Boyle County residents filed initial unemployment claims. That number peaked during the week of March 29 – April 4, when 930 unemployment claims were filed. That number alone totaled nearly 7.5 percent of the local workforce.

Since then, many have returned to work as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear instituted the “Healthy at Work” initiative and several businesses began reopening as early as May 11 with a gradual reopening of the economy continuing over the next several weeks.

While nearly every sector of the workforce has been affected by the pandemic, either by businesses being closed down or forced to change the way they operate, some industries have been hit harder than others.

According to the report, manufacturing has been the hardest hit industry in Boyle County, with nearly 11.5 percent of claims coming from the manufacturing industry, although it could be more as many claims did not have an industry listed. A total of 2,145 of those 4,045 claims did not list an industry.

Healthcare and social assistance also saw a significant increase in unemployment. During the above time period, a little more than 11 percent of unemployment claims came from individuals who listed their industry as healthcare and social assistance.

Accomodation and food service also took a significant hit, particularly after restaurants were ordered to close in-person dining. Approximately 6.5 percent of those who listed an industry designated accommodation and food service as their industry.

Jody Lassiter, president/CEO of Develop Danville, said the EDP has been monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 locally, specifically in the industrial sector which employs many Boyle County residents.

The industrial sector, Lassiter said, includes both manufacturing and distribution jobs.

Lassiter said the EDP has surveyed local employers and learned that nine local industries did not lay off any employees and remained open over the last several weeks as they were deemed essential.

While 12 local industries did lay off employees, Lassiter said those companies plan on bringing back those employees in phases from May 11 – June 1. Many of those employees returned to work on Monday of this week.

“According to the responses collected as of this morning (Monday), there were only 58 full-time employees reported as being impacted by permanent layoffs,” Lassiter said.

Looking at neighboring counties, Casey and Garrard counties each recorded approximately 27.9 percent of the civilian workforce filing an unemployment claim during this time, and Washington County recorded 29.8 percent of its workforce filing a claim.

Some other nearby counties recorded higher numbers. Mercer County recorded 34.2 percent of its workforce filing an unemployment claim, and Lincoln County recorded 36 percent. Of the counties that surround Boyle County, Marion County recorded the largest percentage of its workforce filing for unemployment at 39 percent.

During that time period, more than 523,000 Kentuckians filed an initial unemployment claim. Manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, and accommodation and food service were the three industries most heavily affected by the pandemic at the state level also.