The employment rate for Boyle County dropped slightly in the last quarter of 2012, according to a report issued by the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership. However, several factors are responsible for the shrinkage, according to Jody Lassiter, EDP president and chief executive officer.
The overall employment rate in Boyle dropped about 1 percent between September and December. The EDP’s quarterly employment census does not cover every business in the area and is not an exact science, Lassiter noted.
The businesses that do report their workforce numbers to the EDP collectively employed 6,820 people in the last part of 2012; 378 fewer people were employed than in the third quarter of 2012.
Multiple factors impacted the figures, and the report does not necessarily mean that economic development in the Danville area has stalled, according to Lassiter.
“... The major factor is that Norfolk Southern reports its employment numbers to us only on an annual basis,” Lassiter said in an email interview. “Therefore, Norfolk Southern’s reduction of approximately 135 jobs shows up in this quarter but was actually a reduction over the course of 2012. This reduction was due to the relocation of the crew change location from Danville to Burnside ...
“Those employees are still working for Norfolk Southern, but they are based in Burnside rather than Danville. Therefore, it is a job loss only in the sense of payroll tax revenues to Danville and Boyle County.”
Another issue was Red Wing Shoes closing its Danville plant. But, Lassiter emphasized that while this closure is a loss for the community, the people once employed there received “generous” severance packages.
Also, the displaced workers are eligible for retraining and transition programs available through the federal and state government. The EDP and its partners got involved as soon as they learned about the plant’s closure, according to Lassiter.
“What is called the rapid response team immediately met with Red Wing employees after the closure was announced,” Lassiter said. “This is a matter of practice, and our office often contacts the team as soon as we learn of a potential closure or layoff.”
The change of the seasons, which impacts seasonal employment opportunities particularly if there is inclement weather, also caused the modest increase in unemployed Boyle workers, Lassiter said.
“Over five years, I've noticed a trend that our employment numbers are progressively stronger in the second and third quarters,” Lassiter. “The fourth quarter is usually hit by reduction of seasonal workers.
“First quarter is usually our weakest for job growth. Many of our companies have business cycles which are strongest in the latter half of the year.”
The good news is that the overall state unemployment figures reported in December were still positive, Lassiter noted. About 8.1 percent of Kentuckians are unemployed, a slight reduction from the number of people seeking work earlier in the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.