Some striking unemployment figures for the Bluegrass Region: Since 1990, the highest monthly unemployment figure was 5.5% – in June of this year the figure was 9.1%.
Over the 18 years from 1990 until 2008, the longest stretch with above 5% unemployment was three months. Since May of 2008, we have had 15 months of unemployment above 5%, and its been over 7% for at least six months.
There are now over 22,000 people unemployed here – about the size of the entire population of Woodford County.
This is really bad news for our communities that are dependent on the payroll tax to provide services. High unemployment not only keeps people off the tax rolls, but also drives down wages.
(See the most recent example from the Herald Leader: “UK Hospital cuts incentive pay for weekend nurses” – How many other examples like this are out there?)
Local elected officials must be scared to death. They can’t raise taxes, and cutting services means making lots of people mad. My guess is that we’ll see a lot of new and higher “fees,” services made more “efficient” (less garbage pickup, less mowing at parks, etc..), and not replacing personnel attrition. I also wonder about property valuations going up – although most communities don’t get that much from the real property tax, in this climate every little bit helps.
(Nationally, Federal statistics indicate that there were more than five times as many people seeking jobs in the United States in June as there were positions available.)