Lexington’s Unique Equine Industry

The equine industry is a leading sector of Kentucky’s economy, and Lexington is a substantial part of that industry. With 24,000 horses in Lexington’s 283 square miles, Lexington takes up less than 1% of Kentucky’s land but is home to 10% of Kentucky’s horses, according to the most recent Kentucky Equine Survey.

To put Lexington’s equine industry into perspective, consider the location quotient (LQ), which measures an industry’s concentration or share of employment in a region compared to the nation. The LQ can signal a region’s uniqueness and strengths.

  • An LQ of 1 indicates that the region is no different from the national average.
  •  An LQ of greater than 1 indicates a regional strength, and a high LQ indicates uniqueness or a competitive advantage.
  • An LQ of less than 1 indicates a weaker industry, which can sometimes be an opportunity for development.

The industry with the largest LQ in Lexington is horses and other equine production (NAICS 11292 ), at 78.94 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). In other words, horses are Lexington’s most unique industry and the share of equine employees in Lexington is 79 times higher than the national share.

Looking at the region, the Lexington MSA has the second highest equine industry LQ in the country at 118.02. Furthermore, 22% of the country’s equine industry employees are in the Lexington MSA.

Kentucky has the largest equine industry LQ compared to all states at 18.16, far outpacing the second-highest state, New Mexico, which has an LQ of 3.64.

 

 

 

Kentucky Institute for Economic Development

Members of Commerce Lexington’s economic development team are attending the Kentucky Institute for Economic Development training this week. The course is designed to equip participants with the tools necessary to compete aggressively and successfully for new development in their communities.

Check back next week for more about Lexington’s economy!

Mid-2017 Unemployment Rates

June unemployment rates were recently released and Lexington continues to maintain a healthy economy with low unemployment.

According to data from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program and the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, Lexington’s unemployment rate was 4.4% in June 2017, an increase over the same time last year when the unemployment rate was 3.8% in June 2016. Over the past year, Lexington’s unemployment rate has increased, but was generally between three and four percent. Kentucky’s unemployment rate has hovered around a steady 5.0%, with a low of 4.8% in December 2016 and a high of 5.1% in April and June 2017.

The Bluegrass Region’s unemployment rate closely follows Lexington’s unemployment rate, primarily because Lexington’s workforce makes up 51% of the Bluegrass Region’s workforce.

The unemployment rate was lowest in May for each county of the Bluegrass. Lexington’s unemployment rate was consistently the second lowest, behind Woodford County.

 

Lexington’s Quality of Life

Lexington offers a high quality of life for a relatively low cost of living and is consistently nationally recognized for its quality of life. This year, Lexington has ranked #5 Best Run City by WalletHub, #7 Best City for New Grads by SmartAsset, and #8 Best City to Start a Business by HeroPay.

In fact, the Cost of Living Index calculates that Lexington’s 2016 housing costs were 84.0 on an index where 100 is the national average, meaning that Lexingtonians pay about $0.84 on the dollar for housing compared to the average of other communities around the nation. For example, Sarasota, FL, and Minot, ND, have a housing score of 99.8, the closest to 100 of the 264 communities surveyed. Residents of Sarasota and Minot could expect to purchase a new 2,400 SF home in a good neighborhood for $329,000 and $326,000 respectively, compared to $264,000 in Lexington. With a 25% down payment, Sarasota and Minot residents could also expect mortgage payments of $1,337 and $1,116, while Lexington resident could expect just $913, according to the 2016 Cost of Living Index.

The Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors (LBAR) is the region’s leading advocate for homeownership and represents more than 2,700 realtors. This month, LBAR announced that there were nearly 4,500 sales in seven counties of the Bluegrass Region (Madison County was not included) totaling over $952 million in the first half of 2017. Fayette County accounted for 65% of sales and 60% of total dollars – 2,682 sales totaling $616,177,622. The median sale price increased 8% from $173,000 in the first half of 2016 to $186,250 in the first half of 2017.

Lexington offers limitless opportunities for higher education, a vibrant downtown that attracts over 2.8 million visitors every year, exciting sports teams, nearby Keeneland and other equine attractions, craft beer and ice cream, renowned bourbon distilleries, and many other assets. Commerce Lexington Inc. and VisitLEX have embarked upon a more formal partnership to develop strategies to recruit associations and business meetings to the area. Our teams meet quarterly to discuss various topics including infrastructure, marketing strategies, client feedback, incentives, and other items, as well as review our strategic plan.

 

 

 

 

 

Note: The Cost of Living Index collects data on new home purchase prices and 30-year fixed interest mortgage rates and calculates fixed monthly principal-and-interest payments over the entire life of the loan assuming  25% down payment. It intended as an estimate for comparison purposes only.

Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement Update

As part of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM), the Commerce Lexington team joined Louisville colleagues in Washington, D.C. this week for a two-day workshop with The Brookings Institution. BEAM has been selected to join a group of nine city-regions seeking to increase the impact of metropolitan trade strategies through new research and plans that will determine how our region can best use international economic partnerships with international metro counterparts.