- Associated Press - Thursday, September 25, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - All 120 Kentucky counties experienced drops in unemployment rates between August 2013 and 2014 - the first across-the-board decline on record and another indication that the state’s economy is recovering from the Great Recession, a state economist said Thursday.

“The underlying message is that we have left the recession behind,” Manoj Shanker, an economist with the state Office of Employment and Training in Frankfort, said in reporting the latest county-by-county jobless numbers.

Last week, the same agency said Kentucky’s economy is on pace in the coming months to fully regain all the jobs lost during the recession. The state has recovered 96 percent of the 122,100 nonfarm jobs that vanished by early 2010 when employment sagged to its lowest level during the economic downturn.

Kentucky’s preliminary unemployment rate last month was 7.1 percent, down from 8.4 percent a year ago.

In tracking county-by-county joblessness, the lowest and highest rates in August 2014 ranged from 5.1 percent in Owen, Simpson and Woodford counties to 13.3 percent in Magoffin County, Shanker said.

In August 2013, the lowest rate was 5.8 percent in Woodford County, and the highest rate was 18.1 percent in Harlan County.

The closest Kentucky had come to an across-the-board drop in county unemployment rates occurred in January 2012, when 116 counties had declining rates, Shanker said. By contrast, jobless rates rose in all 120 counties for nine straight months in 2009 during the depths of the recession.

Such sustained improvement for every county might be difficult given the volatility of county-by-county numbers, Shanker said.

“The overall trend is positive, but there will be times - perhaps as soon as next month - when instead of all 120 counties recovering, it may be 100 counties,” he said.

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