Bowling Green job market hot, national economy not

Ryan McBride

Despite a declining national economy, prospects for finding a job in Warren County are stronger than they have been in the past decade, economics professor Brian Strow said.

“Bowling Green is definitely becoming the economic center of Southcentral Kentucky,” he said.

According to July data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bowling Green1s unemployment rate of .8 percent is the lowest among Kentucky cities with populations over 25,000. Henderson1s was the worst at 7.3 percent.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate, at 5.2 percent, ranks 27th in the country as of August, according to the bureau. South Dakota1s is the lowest at 2.6 percent, and Puerto Rico1s is the highest at 12.1 percent.

Strow attributes Bowling Green1s thriving economy to relatively low taxes, which help retain businesses. Strow also credited Western’s impact, saying the school pumps quality workers into the local market.

Career Services Center director Judith Owen said there is a shortage of jobs in math and sciences, foreign languages and English, especially as a second language.

There are health care jobs available, as well as jobs in teaching, but not in Bowling Green.

“If you’re willing to relocate and go out of state, there are all kinds of teaching positions available,” Owen said.

She said the majors having a hard time finding jobs are technical majors, such as information systems and computer sciences and accounting.

Owen said about 85 percent of Western students gain employment after graduation, the same as the national average.

Owen encourages students to register with the center when they first arrive on the Hill.

Mariah’s restaurant, which employs about 85 Western students of their 125 employees, has had no problems filling jobs, restaurant manager Jody Flemming said.

Neither has Target, which has been doing seasonal hiring since Oct. 1. Store Team Leader Jim Sauerheber said Western students make up more than 50 percent of Target1s employees.

“We have a lot of jobs available, but a tremendous amount of people are applying for them,” said Stephanie Rush, logistical manager at Target.

Strow said while Bowling Green1s economy is improving, the rest of the state and country are not.

“The job market has definitely been tightening up,” Strow said.

He said that the national unemployment rate, now at 5.6 percent, has gained over 1 percent since last year.

“Most economists are predicting that the national unemployment rate might rise in the next couple of months, maybe even close to 6 percent,” he said. “So if the unemployment rate continues to rise nationwide, finding a job will be harder and harder.”

The service sector is still driving, but jobs coming from large corporations are the ones that are most affected, Strow said.

Bowling Green junior Bobby Handy, who has worked at the library for two years, said he didn’t have any trouble finding his job, and isn’t worried about the economy.

“I don’t see much problem with it, but I’m a student so it doesn’t affect me that much, not as much as older people,” he said. “I guess once I get out of here it will start affecting me a little bit more.”