Unemployment rises in N.Ky. but economy still strong

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (FOX19) - Northern Kentucky experience an up tick in its unemployment in January but that doesn't necessarily mean the area's economy is slowing.

The unemployment rate in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties increased in January from December but compared to January 2013, the rates all decreased. The state released the information on Thursday.

Here's a snapshot:

*Boone County: 6.4 percent (January), 5.8 percent (December 2013), 7.9 percent (January 2013)

*Campbell County: 7.1 percent (January), 6.4 percent (December 2013), 8.5 percent (January 2013)

*Kenton County: 7.1 percent (January), 6.2 percent (December 2013), 8.5 percent (January 2013).

Manoj Shanker, an economist with the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said the county data is not seasonally adjusted and one can't compare a successive month. Instead one should compare for example January 2014 to January 2013.

Shanker said for example in December retail sales are high so retailers hire more people. He said that hiring pattern is not repeated in January because by the end of December companies start laying off workers.

He said overall in the last 10 years, the three counties have consistently done better than the state average, especially Boone County.

Boone County's annual average in 2013 was 6.9 percent. Campbell County had a 7.3 percent rate and Kenton County's was 7.2 percent. Shanker said those figures are lower than the state and national averages. He said the counties are in a fast growing area and once the Brent Spence Bridge is renovated or a new one built, that will make a big difference.

"As the traffic situation improves there more people are going to be willing to locate from across Ohio onto the Kentucky side," Shanker said.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said Northern Kentucky takes a long-term view on unemployment rates. It said the trend continues to show positive signs since the end of the Great Recession. It said the average unemployment rate for the three counties was 9.8 percent in 2010 and 6.8 percent so far this year.

"We are encouraged by the overall economic growth our region has experienced coming out of the greatest recession in a generation," the chamber said. "In 2013, Northern Kentucky celebrated one of its strongest years by attraction or expansion of 22 companies creating a total of 2,300 jobs for the region."

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