recession was in the manufacturing sector. Assembly plants, parts
manufacturers and people involved with the sale of automobiles saw a sharp
decline in 2008 and 2009, Vitale said.
But fluctuations in areas such as retail and manufacturing were buffered by the industries of education, health care and to some extent agriculture, he said.
Some sectors of the economy have seen growth in employment in recent years, Carey said. The sectors of education, heath services and government were least affected by the recession in the Bowling Green area while manufacturing, transportation and utilities and construction employment have seen the biggest declines and haven't yet recovered to pre-recession levels.
The Warren County area has weathered the recession better than many areas of the country, according to Brian Strow, associate professor of economics at Western Kentucky University.
Education, which is a big part of the local economy, tends to do particularly well during periods of recession because students will often make the decision to stay in school and pursue higher levels of education when work is scarce.
Business-friendly policies, an educated workforce and good infrastructure mean the county is poised to take advantage of recovery, Strow said.
"I think largely we've positioned ourselves well," he said. "When there is an increase in America's economic growth, we'll be in good position to take advantage of that. It's just harder to buck the national trend."
While the unemployment rate in the area is coming down generally, employment is staying relatively flat, Carey said. That's possible because of a decline in the labor force, which happens most often when people stop actively seeking jobs or sometimes move out of the area in question, she said. The labor force in the Bowling Green area had fallen by nearly 2 percent by September 2012, according to information provided by Carey.
In the Bowling Green area, the overall employment level is short about 1,860 jobs compared to the number of jobs when the recession began, according to information provided by Carey. Manufacturing employment in the area is down by 20 percent since the start of the recession and trade, transportation and utilities employment is down about 8.5 percent.
"We're doing better than we were, but we've got a ways to go," she said.
A report released Friday showed that nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September, mainly because many more people began looking for work, and not all of them found jobs, according to The Associated Press.
The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet reported last week that the Bowling Green area's preliminary unemployment rate for September 2012 is 6.6 percent, down from 7.5 percent in August and 7.9 percent in September 2011.
Local signs of improvement
The best sign Bowling Green City Manager Kevin DeFebbo sees that the city is recovering from the recession is that there is a new home going up in his neighborhood. For about six years, he's seen no development there. In the last few months, a house started going up nearby, he said.
Builders are still doing less work than before the recession in southcentral Kentucky, and most people are still sticking with building more
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