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Kentucky Association of Counties


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2023 annual employment data for Kentucky counties released

Press Release from the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet
Annual unemployment rates increased in 80 Kentucky counties in 2023, decreased in 22 and stayed the same in 18 counties, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet.

Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest annual unemployment rate in 2023 at 9.8%. It was followed by Martin County, 8.3%; Elliott County, 8.2%; Lewis County, 8%; Carter County, 7.6%; Breathitt County, 7.5%; Leslie County, 6.9%; Knott County, 6.7%; and Harlan, Johnson and Owsley counties, 6.6% each.

In contrast to the monthly national and state data, unemployment statistics for counties are not seasonally adjusted. The comparable, unadjusted annual state unemployment rate for the state was 4.2% for 2023, and 3.6% for the nation. For more information regarding seasonal fluctuations, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at

In 2023, 72 counties were above the comparable, unadjusted annual state unemployment rate of 4.2%, while 46 were below the state unadjusted rate and two (Graves and Webster counties) were the same rate.

Compared to the national unadjusted 2023 annual rate of 3.6%, 104 Kentucky counties had higher 2023 annual rates, while 11 were lower and five (Boone, Bourbon, Campbell, Franklin and Nelson counties) matched it. 

Counties with the largest decline in annual unemployment rates from 2022 to 2023 were Magoffin County, -1.0 percentage point; Trimble County, -0.6 percentage point; Graves and Owsley counties, -0.5 percentage points each; and Spencer County, -0.4 percentage point.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks. The statistics in this news release are not seasonally adjusted to allow for comparisons between United States, state, and counties figures. The statistics in this news release may be revised in the future.

Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at

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