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.

Lexington’s Target Industries

Boasting a robust economy, the Bluegrass is a diversified growth engine for economic success. There are several key industries that are particularly significant to Lexington’s economy and are strategic targets for economic development.

Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing uses innovation and technology to improve the manufacturing process, typically through computer technology, advanced robotics, clean technology, automation, innovation, precision control, customization, and waste reduction. The Bluegrass Region has a strong advanced manufacturing sector, particularly in the automotive industry, biotechnology products, and renewable energy machinery. The region’s strong transportation network allows for the easy import of component supplies and the export and distribution of finished products. To support this sector, Lexington strives to help advanced manufacturing  companies expand research and development activities and enhance product lines, and there are many educational programs in place to continue building a workforce to fuel the manufacturing industry for years to come.

Animal Sciences

Animal sciences involves the production and management of livestock and domestic animals. Animal scientists use biological, physical, and social sciences to understand and study animals’ physiology, behavior, welfare, nutrition, genetics, and diseases. The equine industry is an important part of animal sciences, particularly in Lexington. Horses are a major part of Lexington’s economy and are at the heart of our local culture, with an estimated 150 horse farms in Lexington and 450 in the region. Lexington and the Bluegrass Region have a strong infrastructure to support the horse industry, including horse farms, race tracks, the Kentucky Horse Parks, museums, equestrian events, equine medical facilities, and research and development at the University of Kentucky.

Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement/Foreign Direct Investment 

The Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) is a regional initiative in the 22-county region anchored by Lexington and Louisville. Recognizing the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) for innovation, research, exports production, and high-wage jobs, the BEAM Trade and Investment Plan was developed in collaboration with the Brookings Global Cities program to examine FDI in the BEAM Region and proposes the way forward for metropolitan cultivation of FDI that helps build a resilient and growing regional economy. Lexington and the Bluegrass Region have a strong presence of foreign direct investment that makes important contributions to our economy. The Bluegrass Region is home to 21% of all foreign-owned facilities in Kentucky and 23% of the workforce – that’s 99 facilities with ownership from 18 different countries providing full-time employment to over 23,900 people (as of April 2017). In fact, Lexington recently ranked 7th Best City for Attracting Foreign Investment by fDi Intelligence.

Business and Professional Services

Lexington is a regional hub for business and professional services, which help companies operate by providing services and support such as legal, architectural, engineering, consulting, and real estate services, as well as back-office support operations, accounting and payroll services, and processing facilities. Companies engaged in providing professional services tend to concentrate in metropolitan areas near their clients, while back-office and support services companies prefer lower-cost locations. Lexington is idea for both, with 100 headquarters operations and one of the lowest cost-of-business locations in the country. In fact, Lexington was named #8 City with the Lowest Startup Costs by Smart Assets in 2016 and #16 Best Place for Business and Careers by Forbes in 2015.

Clean Technology 

Clean tech uses technologies, processes, or services to minimize the environmental impact of production, energy consumption, and power generation. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are core to clean tech. Clean tech is an emerging industry in Lexington and there are many regional assets to help propel the industry forward. Of particular importance are the growing number of biotechnology firms in the area and the high concentration of life sciences research being conducted at the University of Kentucky. Many partners work alongside UK’s research and development of clean and renewable energy sources. The Center for Applied Creative Research (CAER) is a multidisciplinary energy technology research center to improve the environment, featuring multiple specialized research facilities.

Life Sciences 

In the Bluegrass Region and Kentucky, Lexington is a hub for the life sciences industry. Lexington has leveraged top ranked research programs at the University of Kentucky, a culture of innovation and commercialization, a superior business climate, and an expansive network of medical centers to provide an environment where any market niche of the life sciences industry can grow.  The life sciences industry has two components: direct patient care and biotechnology. Direct patient care includes hospitals, nursing facilities, and medical centers, and is a prominent market in Lexington with a strong base of health care facilities, employers, resources, and several major medical centers. Biotechnology includes animal and plant science research and designing and manufacturing medical/veterinary products. Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and over 50 biotech companies have chosen to locate in Lexington.

Software and Information Technology

Lexington has a unique business mix of software and information technology industry leaders, world-class small businesses, and social networking and interactive media startups. With such diverse businesses in the industry, Lexington is an ideal location for software and IT businesses. Software leaders include IBM branch offices, Funai Electric Company, Conduent, and Software Quality Systems (SQS). Lexington’s local startups are making a name for themselves in the world of social networking and game development, such as Frogdice Inc., an independent game developer of online role playing games and virtual worlds, and Gun Media, another Lexington-based gaming company whose goal is to build fresh and exciting interactive experiences for a wide range of platforms and gamers.

Visitor Industries 

Visitor industries includes the sale of goods and the accommodation, entertainment, and recreational opportunities available for tourists, visitors, and residents, including businesses such as retail trade, travel arrangements, convention and trade shows, performing arts, spectator sports, museums, and food services. Lexington is a great place for business and leisure. Lexington is at the heart of the horse industry, the start of the Bourbon Trail, and the home of the University of Kentucky. Visitors are drawn to Lexington for events and conferences at the Lexington Convention Center, which contains Rupp Arena and the Lexington Opera House. In addition, Lexington has attracted visitors through both national and international events such as the Creative Cities Summit, the Alltech World Equestrian Games, and the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championship. To help strengthen and grow Lexington’s visitor industries, Commerce Lexington Inc. and VisitLEX’s teams 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.