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UK Economic Outlook Conference, CBER report details impact of AI on Kentucky’s economy

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 7, 2024) — The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on employment and wages will take center stage at the Economic Outlook Conference, hosted by the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky, on Thursday, Feb. 8 at Central Bank Center.

Experts from the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), the applied economic research branch of Gatton College, the Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering and the Federal Reserve Bank will also discuss their 2024 national- and state-level economic forecasts.

AI has captured the attention of policy makers and the public. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, the majority of Americans are more concerned than excited about the use of AI in daily life.

“AI, like many technology shocks before, will likely have both positive and negative effects on the workforce,” Michael Clark, director of CBER, said. “Past technological innovations have shown us that the benefits of these innovations generally outweighed the costs, but the impacts are not evenly distributed across the population.”

During the conference, CBER will also release its 2024 Kentucky Annual Economic Report, which is one of the many ways CBER fulfills its mandated mission as specified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes to examine various aspects of the Kentucky economy. CBER performs research projects for federal, state and local government agencies, as well as for private sector and nonprofit clients nationwide. 

The 340-page report covers a variety of issues ranging from an economic forecast for the Commonwealth in 2024 to a comprehensive presentation of agricultural, community, economic, economic security, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure, innovation, population and public finance factors affecting Kentucky’s future economic prosperity. 

Additionally, the report highlights more than 100 trends, forces and factors affecting Kentucky’s economy. “Many people, from business leaders to politicians to citizens, will find relevant information in the annual report,” Clark said.

Beyond the impact of AI, there are other issues, such as the likelihood of a recession, future job growth and labor force participation.

“Both the national and Kentucky economies have proven resilient. Inflation, while still high, has moderated and employment continues to grow,” Clark continued. “However, systemic challenges, such as workforce development, labor force participation, and racial, gender and ethnic disparities represent long-term economic challenges for the Commonwealth.”

From October 2022-October 2023, Kentucky’s total non-farm employment increased by 2.6% compared to the 1.9% gain nationally. Kentucky also outperformed the nation in employment growth for several sectors, including construction, education and health services and manufacturing.

However, according to the report, the state is trailing behind the national economy in employment growth in the leisure and hospitality and financial activities sectors.

Looking forward, Clark expects, “Kentucky’s economy to grow at a slower pace than over the past few years.”

The report also provides regional comparisons across the Commonwealth, which show uneven progress across the state.

“A strategic priority of Gatton College is to increase external engagement and promote economic growth throughout Kentucky," said Dean Simon Sheather. "Our goal with this report is to help inform business and community leaders as they consider how to address challenges throughout the Commonwealth — with the hope it will improve regional economies, household incomes and the overall well-being of our communities.”

Digital copies of the 2024 Kentucky Annual Economic Report can be obtained online or by emailing

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.