HAZARD – Unemployment rates in Perry County jumped for the third straight month in February, while catapulting nearly two percentage points in the past 12 months.
More than 1,600 people in Perry County’s civilian labor force were estimated to be jobless in February, according to the latest figures from the Office of Employment and Training in Frankfort. That represented an unemployment rate of 13.8 percent, up slightly from January’s rate of 13.7, but more significantly from just a year ago when the county recorded a rate of 12.1 percent in February 2012.
Perry County’s rate of joblessness has not fallen below 10 percent since December 2011, just before a bevy of mining companies in the region began cutbacks that resulted in the loss of thousands of coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky in 2012.
Statewide, 91 counties saw a drop in unemployment from February 2012 to February 2013, though few of them were in Eastern Kentucky. Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate at 18.9 percent.
In the eight-county Kentucky River Area Development District, Owsley County saw the lowest rate of unemployment at 11.8 percent, which was actually a drop from 12.1 percent a year ago. Wolfe and Lee counties also saw a reduction, though their respective rates of 13.4 and 14.5 remain well above the state average of 7.9 percent.
Leslie County recorded the highest rate in the Kentucky River district with 17.3 percent, followed by Letcher County at 16.9 and Knott County at 15.6.
Kentucky’s lowest rate was recorded in Woodford County at 5.9 percent.