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Press Release

Eastern Kentucky is challenged with demographic issues as it tries to attract and retain a more diverse mix of jobs, says Cleveland Fed researcher

“Eastern Kentucky is shedding population through a combination of out-migration and deaths that are outpacing births, circumstances that have accelerated as the coal industry has declined,” says Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland policy analyst Matt Klesta. And those who are entering the region are often poorly educated, low-wage earners, and/or not in the labor force, according to Klesta’s analysis of the region’s population and migration trends.

The researcher says eastern Kentucky had the greatest net migration loss to Fayette County, Kentucky, home to the fast-growing city of Lexington. Conversely, the region had the greatest net gain from Wayne County, West Virginia, where natural resource and mining employment has declined significantly.

“This underscores the importance of attracting new jobs to and cultivating existing jobs and entrepreneurship within the region,” says Klesta, who notes that the state’s initiative to construct a broadband network in eastern Kentucky could help the region diversify its job opportunities.

The researcher says moving the region forward will take a concerted effort from policymakers and stakeholders working together toward similar goals. “It’s evident through this look at population and migration trends that the region is still seeking its equilibrium,” says Klesta.

Read Comings and Goings in Eastern Kentucky.

Also see the other articles in our 4-part series:

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.218.1892