LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky has one of the lowest workforce participation rates. That's one of many key findings from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's "20 Years in the Making: Kentucky's Workforce Crisis" report evaluating the status of the job market in Kentucky over the past 20 years.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky ranks 48 out of 50 states for adult workforce participation

  • 43.7% of Kentucky's adult population was not participating in the workforce in June 2021

  • The pandemic played a role, but there has been declining workforce participation in the commonwealth since 2000

  • Possible causes include Baby Boomer retirements, a skills gap and lack of child care access

Kentucky ranks 48 out of 50 states for rates of adults in the workforce. At just shy of 54% of adults in the workforce, Kentucky falls below all of its surrounding states. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's report uses Bureau of Labor statistics.

"To flip this around, 43.7% percent of Kentucky’s adult population was not participating in the workforce in June 2021. This equates to more than 1.5 million Kentucky adults," the report states.

Of course, the pandemic played a role in that, but the report finds the trend started long before. The general workforce participation has been steadily declining since 2000. The pandemic drove that down to an all-time low.

Aside from the pandemic, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce report includes some information as to why this could be. Some of the possible causes include:

  • The much larger Baby Boomer generation has been retiring and there are not enough younger workers to fill the vacant roles
  • There is a skills gap in Kentucky meaning there are not enough workers with the qualifications needed to fill available jobs
  • Access to childcare as 1.3 million rural Kentuckians live in a child care desert

Those are just some of the possible factors. You can read the full report here.