Building off of last week’s blog, let’s take a look at immigrants in Lexington. (Unfortunately, much Census data available at the state level for the foreign born population is not available at the county level, such as occupations, so there’s less information than was presented in the New Americans in Kentucky report.)
According to Census data, just over 26,500 Lexington residents were born in another country, or roughly 9% of Lexington’s population, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the state’s immigrant population. Most originated from Mexico (32%) followed by China (9%), India (5%), and Japan (4%). Of these 26,500 people, nearly 28% have naturalized and become U.S. citizens, while 73% have not.
Like Kentucky immigrants in general, Lexington’s foreign born population is primarily working age: 71% are between 25 and 64 years old, whereas only 52% of the native population falls in that age range. Consequently, a higher percentage of immigrants are in the labor force (75%) than native born Lexingtonians (68%).
Less than 10% of Lexington’s immigrants are less than 18 years old (compared to 22% of the native born population), so it’s not surprising that immigrants tend to be enrolled in preschool and k-12 schools at lower rates than the native born population and are less likely to have a high school diploma. However, they are more likely to be enrolled in college or graduate school (63%, compared to 45% of the native born population) and more likely to have an advanced degree (22%, compared to 16% of Lexington’s foreign born population).
Lexington is also home to many foreign owned companies, such as Coldstream Laboratories purchased by Piramal Enterprises Limited of India, Funai Lexington Technology Corporation purchased by Funai Electric Company, Ltd. of Japan, Florida Tile purchased by Panariagroup of Italy, CLARK Material Handling Company purchased by Young An Hat Company of Korea, and Link-Belt Construction Equipment Company owned by Sumitomo Heavy Industries of Japan, to name only a few.
In 2015, Lexington ranked #4 Top 10 Small American City of the Future for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence, in recognition of our city’s economic potential, business friendliness, human capital assets, lifestyle, cost effectiveness, and connectivity. Foreign investors have also started small businesses in the region, including popular pubs, restaurants, and coffee shops, and invested in our horse industry by purchasing farm land and thoroughbreds.