Wise Appointed Chair Of Workforce Attraction And Retention Task Force

Task force will tackle workforce issues across Kentucky.

FRANKFORT, Ky (June 19, 2024)—Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has named Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, to the newly established Workforce Attraction and Retention Task Force. This task force will meet monthly during the 2024 Interim to study and address the challenges around attracting the best workers to Kentucky and creating an environment to retain them long-term.

The Workforce Attraction and Retention Task Force will:

identify issues Kentucky employers face in attracting and retaining skilled workers,

explore successful marketing strategies for workforce attraction from other states and local communities,

collaborate with the Cabinet for Economic Development and hire a consulting firm to devise recommendations,

develop a marketing program and grant fund program for workforce attraction and retention,

evaluate existing education and workforce development programs,

analyze economic and labor force data and demographic trends, and

engage with employers, industry representatives, and economic development professionals.

“I am honored and excited that President Stivers named me as the co-chair of this vital task force,” Wise said. “Without a healthy workforce, Kentucky residents will be unable to realize their dreams of home ownership, attaining higher education, and taking care of their families. We need to continue creating a climate that attracts and retains the very best workers across all industries.  I anticipate leveraging best practices learned through testimony in the interim to benefit Kentucky’s residents and create an even better workforce environment Kentucky already enjoys.”

Nationwide Efforts to Attract and Retain the Best Workers

Initially thought to be a short-term COVID-19-era issue, labor shortages have become a near-permanent challenge and industry experts have run out of common explanations for why, according to U.S. News & World Report. Wages have increased in response to employee demand or increases in state minimum wage laws. COVID-era expanded unemployment insurance benefits and stimulus programs have ended. Women with child care responsibilities have returned to the workforce at pre-pandemic levels. (May 30, 2024).

Kentucky Participation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky’s labor force participation rate, as of 2021, was 57.4 percent, topping only six states: South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, New Mexico, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Most recent seasonally adjusted data from Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), shows Kentucky’s labor force participation rate at 57.1 percent as of April, only higher than Mississippi. This is 2 percent lower than in 2019. The national average is 62.7 percent.

Task Force Implications

The task force will hear testimony from talent attraction experts, develop a marketing and grant fund program for workforce attraction and retention, examine successful efforts in other states and industries, and recommend best practices for Kentucky. By December 1, the task force will submit its findings and recommendations to the Legislative Research Commission for further consideration.

Wise’s appointment and the task force’s creation highlight the Kentucky General Assembly’s commitment to attracting and retaining the highest-quality workforce to fuel the state’s burgeoning economy. The task force’s work will be crucial in shaping the state economy and the overall health of state industries.

(Angela L. Billings, Director of Communications – Senate Majority Leadership)