KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear reported the lowest unemployment rate in state history for the second consecutive month during his Team Kentucky update on Thursday.

Governor Beshear reported that the commonwealth’s May 2022 unemployment rate hit a low of 3.8%, which is down from April’s unemployment rate of 3.9%. The governor said unemployment is currently at 78,893 which is the lowest it has been since May 2000.

“Today we have the fewest number of Kentuckians on unemployment in 21 years,” said Governor Beshear. “Even better, 107 Kentucky counties saw their unemployment rates drop even from last month. Kentucky’s economy is surging and we’re creating quality jobs for people across the commonwealth.”

The governor also reported the employment rate is also the highest it’s been since pre-pandemic. Here are some of the other things discussed during Thursday’s Team Kentucky update.

Economic development momentum

Governor Beshear highlighted economic development projects from across the commonwealth, which are expected to create over 525 jobs with a total investment over $70 million.

Local leaders in Rowan County will implement $425,000 in upgrades to the Menifee-Morgan-Rowan-County Regional Industrial Park with support from a $212,500 state grant and a local match from the MMRC Regional Industrial Development Authority. The project will see the construction of a new 150,000-square-foot pad that will include extensive upgrades i site work for grade, drain and infrastructure extensions.

Seven Kentucky companies will receive nearly $900,000 in state matching grants to support high-paying jobs and grow the state’s technology industry. The grants are a part of the commonwealth’s nationally recognized Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Matching Funds Program. For more details on the companies, click here.

The governor announced Funai Lexington Technology Corp.’s planned expansion in Fayette County. According to the governor this expansion includes an investment of over $3.8 million and will create six jobs for local residents. Governor Beshear also highlighted the following projects:

  • Augusta Distillery’s plans for a new operation in Bracken County with a $23 million investment that is expected to create 14 jobs for Kentuckians.
  • New Riff Distilling LLC breaking ground on a more than $10 million barrel storage warehouse in Campbell County that is expected to create five jobs for Kentucky residents.
  • Mayfield Consumer Products LLC, a manufacturer of candles and other home fragrance products, will invest a total of $33.3 million and employ more than 500 people full-time over the next five years as the company builds back following the December 10 tornado outbreak.

Beshear issues executive order to combat high gas prices

Governor Beshear issued an executive order on Thursday declaring a state of emergency and activated the state’s price gouging laws. With the state of emergency in place, consumers in the commonwealth can report price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General and under state law price gougers can be held accountable.

“Kentucky families deserve relief from increasing gas prices,” said Gov. Beshear. “Everyone sitting at a kitchen table working on a budget knows that every little bit helps, and I will continue to seek and take any action that might make even the slightest difference.”

AAA reported the price of gasoline hit record highs multiple times in Kentucky during May and kept soaring in June with a record-high average price of $4.798 per gallon on June 20.

Relief announced for grain farmers after December tornadoes

The governor announced a new effort to help farmers in western Kentucky in the aftermath of the December 2021 tornadoes. The Team West Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund will provide up to $3.25 million through the Graves County Grain Assistance Program to help local farmers doing business with the Mayfield Grain Co. that took a direct hit from the tornadoes.

The Graves County Grain Assistance Program was established after Beshear’s administration was contacted by Graves County Judge Executive Jesse Perry and local farmers.

New investment in law enforcement

Governor Beshear announced the state is making another investment in law enforcement by launching the Military to Law Enforcement Program.

The program allows active service members within all branches of the U.S. military to be hired by local law enforcement agencies in Kentucky during their last 180 days of service. The military member will continue to receive their full pay and benefits from the U.S. Military while they undergo law enforcement training at the Department of Criminal Justice Training.

Team Kentucky All-Star

Hannah Edelen, a public school teacher from northern Kentucky who was crowned Miss Kentucky 2022, was recognized as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star.

“Hannah has an incredible story. She’s the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree at Northern Kentucky University. After graduating, she became a sixth-grade social studies teacher for the Covington Independent School District. We are really excited for her and look forward to seeing everything she will do as Miss Kentucky.