Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Kentucky's workforce participation rate is low. In fact, it's so low that we will need to employ 165,000 Kentuckians just to get to the national average according to a report commissioned last year by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Workforce participation has plunged and much is attributed to addiction issues.  Nationally, one in seven (15 percent) of men between the ages of 25-54 aren't employed. But it's not because there aren't jobs. New businesses are moving into the state and existing businesses are expanding here and they need workers. But maybe even more pressing is that it's important for able-bodied people to provide for themselves and their families. This is because work brings dignity and independence. And those on the sidelines who are able to work should be encouraged to do so.