Fueled by coal company layoffs, Letcher County’s unemployment rate swelled to 12.6 percent in June but still remained the lowest of any of the coal-producing counties in the eight-county Kentucky River Area Development District.
According to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, 118 more Letcher County residents were added to the unemployment rolls in June, leaving the county as one of only 12 in Kentucky with higher jobless rates than at the same time a year ago.
In what has to be seen as some good news, however, 124 more Letcher residents (8,277) had jobs in June than in May (8,153). The jump in the unemployment rate from May’s 11.7 percent is reflected in labor force which grew from 9,230 in May to 9,472 in June.
Letcher County had the second lowest jobless rate among the KRADD counties, trailing only non-coal producing Owsley County’s rate of 11.8 percent. Perry County and Knott County had June jobless rates of 12.8 percent, while Breathitt County had an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent. Leslie County’s jobless rate jumped to 14.4 percent — the fourth-highest in Kentucky.
Neighboring Harlan County had an unemployment rate of 13.3 percent in June — the state’s seventh-highest. Pike County’s rate jumped to 9.8 percent in June, up from 8.5 percent in May.
Woodford County recorded the lowest jobless rate in the Commonwealth in June at 5.8 percent. It was followed by Fayette County, 6.5 percent; Union County, 6.6 percent ; Oldham and Shelby counties, 6.7 percent each; Hancock County, 6.8 percent; and Daviess, Franklin, Owen and Scott counties, 7 percent each.
Fulton County recorded the state’s highest unemployment rate — 17 percent. It was followed by Magoffin County, 16.9 percent; Jackson County, 14.8 percent; Leslie County; Bell County, 13.7 percent; Wolfe County, 13.5 percent ; Harlan County; Clay County, 13 percent; and Breathitt, Lee and McCreary counties, 12.9 percent each.