FRANKFORT, Ky. — With Kentucky continuing to build on record economic momentum, Gov. Andy Beshear is designating October as Manufacturing Month in the commonwealth, highlighting a sector that employs nearly 250,000 Kentuckians across 5,000 operations.
“Manufacturing is at the heart of everything we do in terms of economic development in this state,” Gov. Beshear said. “This sector has been a driving force behind our recent success and will continue to be a pillar of our economy for generations to come. I want to thank every manufacturer across the commonwealth for their part in our continued success, as well as every single resident who works to produce Kentucky-made products that are distributed around the world.”
Manufacturing encourages growth in communities in every region of the state, providing high wages for Kentucky families across a diverse array of job opportunities. The commonwealth’s manufacturing presence is significant, with the sector represented by approximately 13% of the state’s workforce, compared with a national average of 8.5%. The industry also contributes to $37 billion of the state’s gross domestic product. Manufacturers are behind the success of numerous industries in Kentucky, including automotive, aerospace, distribution and logistics, metals, health care, food, beverage, agritech and many others.
Since the start of the Beshear administration, manufacturing projects have contributed to 475 private-sector new-location and expansion announcements that are creating more than 25,300 full-time jobs for Kentuckians with over $18 billion in new investment.
Manufacturers were central to Kentucky’s record year for economic growth in 2021, responsible for over 93% of the $11.2 billion in announced investment and more than three-quarters of the 18,100 full-time jobs announced by private-sector companies last year.
That momentum has carried into 2022, with 83 manufacturing-related projects announced already this year that are contributing to nearly $6 billion in new investment and over 7,000 full-time jobs. The continued growth is highlighted by a wave of well-paying job opportunities for Kentuckians. Through September, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage is $25.96 before benefits, an 8% increase over the full-year figure for 2021, which stood as the second-highest annual wage in seven years.
Frank Jemley, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM), said Kentucky is a leader within the industry.
“It’s exciting to celebrate Manufacturing Month in the commonwealth and salute the quarter-million Kentuckians who work so hard to make so many world-class products,” Jemley said. “Manufacturing remains the backbone of the Kentucky economy, thanks to our exceptional workforce, low-cost business climate and central location. Kentucky is a manufacturing leader among the 50 states, and the world has noticed. That’s something we can all celebrate this month.”
Manufacturers looking to locate a new facility or expand existing operations are finding that the commonwealth provides all the needed resources to accommodate long-term growth. Kentucky’s ideal central geographic location places the state within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population and income. Combined with state-of-the-art infrastructure, Kentucky’s location allows manufacturers to quickly distribute products to key U.S. markets, while global air cargo hubs by UPS, DHL and Amazon in Louisville and Northern Kentucky provide fast and reliable distribution overnight anywhere in the world. Low business costs, including among the lowest industrial electric costs in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ensure companies can continue to grow and create great jobs for Kentuckians.
Manufacturing Month highlights recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic.
In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
The economic momentum has carried strongly into 2022, with nearly $7.5 billion invested and more than 13,000 full-time jobs created just through September.
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear’s administration has welcomed $21 billion in investments that are creating 40,000 jobs, including the two largest economic development projects in state history. In September 2021, Gov. Beshear and leaders from Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation celebrated a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County. And in April of this year, the Governor was joined by leadership at Envision AESC to announce a $2 billion investment that will create 2,000 jobs in Warren County. These announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
Kentucky’s success has been noted by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, which have upgraded the state’s financial outlook to positive in recognition of the commonwealth’s surging economy. In addition, Site Selection magazine placed Kentucky at 6th in its annual Prosperity Cup rankings for 2022, which recognizes state-level economic success based on capital investments.
Kentucky has posted record low unemployment rates for five consecutive months, holding at or below 3.9% since April 2022.
In July, the Governor reported the highest annual growth rate in 31 years. And for the second year in a row, Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion. Also in July, Gov. Beshear reported that the state’s rainy day fund is up to a record balance of $2.7 billion, significantly higher than the $129 million balance the fund had when the Governor took office.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Kentucky lead the entire nation in job growth for the month of August, adding 26,700 nonfarm payroll jobs.
In September, Kentucky reported August 2022 General Fund receipts hit an unprecedented high for any August on record, marking 21 straight months of growing revenues for the state.