GREENVILLE, Ky. (7/16/13) – Ron Crouch, Director of Research and Statistics, part of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, was the guest speaker at the July luncheon for the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce, held at the Greenville First United Methodist Church last week.
Focusing largely on Muhlenberg, Crouch told the crowd matter of factually that our population is aging. Crouch stated that our economy is moving from a manufacturing to a knowledge economy. We are growing more diverse. There are major differences across regions.
Crouch stressed the point that although coal mine jobs were booming in the 1970s and into the early 1980s in the county, those jobs are diminishing.
"However, mining has resurgence between 2000 and 2008. In 2011, there were only 150 new jobs in the county in coal mining. That industry is becoming less and less of an employer," Crouch said.
In the area of manufacturing, Crouch told the chamber audience there seems to be some good news there. It took a bit of a dip during the recession of 2008, but in 2011 it bounced back in Muhlenberg County, with an increase of 958 jobs. “So, yes, the manufacturing industry is growing in the county," Crouch said.
Crouch noted that retail trade and transpiration stayed about the same.
"So you see what's happening to your jobs. Manufacturing is coming back a little bit, coal mining is suffering dramatically, and healthcare is by far your biggest employer," Crouch recapped.
One big surprise, Crouch noted, was that agriculture is down.
"I really was a bit surprised when I looked over the numbers concerning farming in the county. In 2007, the average income from farming was 77,000.00, which is pretty good for Muhlenberg County," Crouch noted. "Fifty-two percent of your land is in crops. But one positive thing to note is that if water shortages become a problem in counties such as India and China, we could see some real growth return in Muhlenberg County in the future. Agriculture could still play a key role in the economic growth of the county in the future, if the water shortage elsewhere continues to worsen."
"One other topic I'll touch on is the number of people statewide who live in one county and work in another,” he said. “I'll use some of the surrounding counties in Western Kentucky as an example. 21% of the people in McLean County live and work there. In Muhlenberg County about 49% of people who live in Muhlenberg County also work in Muhlenberg County as well. So half your population works outside the county. Hopkins, Daviess, and Logan are the top 3 counties where Muhlenberg County workers commute to work."
"The four major employers in the county are healthcare, education, manufacturing and retail trade, in that order,” Crouch added.
Ending on a positive note, Crouch emphasized that three key factors Muhlenberg County has working in its favor, when it comes to its economic growth, are, "Your county has a very good supply of water, a major highway system nearby, and you're really stressing education."
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