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A record number of Kentuckians applied for unemployment insurance amid a widespread shutdown of bars, restaurants and in-person employment in March. We exposed the state's missteps in administering that program.

Josh Benton To Leave Role At Education and Workforce Development

Deputy Secretary for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Josh Benton during a daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.
J. Tyler Franklin
Deputy Secretary for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Josh Benton during a daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.

Josh Benton, the deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development, is stepping down, a spokesperson said Thursday. 

Benton has been the face of the state’s unemployment office in recent months, often attending Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily press briefings to provide updates on the unprecedented jobless claims and months-long delays for benefits. He is leaving to pursue a career opportunity outside of state government, spokesperson J.T. Henderson said in an email. 

“He will be missed by everyone at the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet,” Henderson wrote. “We wish him and his family well in this new endeavor.”

Benton was appointed deputy secretary in July 2018 under former Gov. Matt Bevin. Before that, he worked for the Cabinet for Economic Development since 2005, according to his LinkedIn. 

Benton’s resignation is the latest in a series of senior-level departures at the Office of Unemployment Insurance since the pandemic hit. In May, the agency fired Muncie McNamara, the executive director of the Office of Unemployment Insurance, who had been hired in January.

McNamara was replaced by Stefanie Ebbens Kingsley, who subsequently stepped down. 

In late May, Beshear moved the Office of Unemployment Insurance from the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development to the Labor Cabinet. But Benton remained the face of the office, continuing to speak at press conferences with Beshear. 

Benton's departure hadn't been announced by the state, but it became public knowledge after several senators thanked him for his service during Benton's testimony before a legislative hearing Thursday.

“I know you've gone through some difficult days in recent months,” said Sen. Lynn Bechler, a Republican from Marion. “And we are very grateful for everything that you’ve done for this Commonwealth and we do wish you the very best in the future.”


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