FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky businesses will save about $165 million on federal unemployment taxes because state leaders have paid off a $972 million federal loan.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said state officials paid off the loan two years ahead of schedule. Kentucky began borrowing from the federal government in 2009 when a combination of high unemployment and fewer jobs meant more people qualified for unemployment benefits than the state had money to pay.

By paying off the loan early, Beshear said Kentucky businesses will save roughly $105 in federal taxes for each employee.

Kentucky was one of 30 states forced to borrow money to cover shortfalls in its unemployment insurance trust fund. Kentucky's unemployment rate is at 5.1 percent, the lowest rate since 2001 and down from a high of 10.9 percent in January 2009.

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