Category Archives: Location

Jobs in Lexington — Mapped!

Job creation, expansion, and retention are at the core of economic development. Numbers and an accompanying narrative are usually used to explain the economic state of Lexington and the Bluegrass Region, but an exciting new format has just been released.

Robert Manduca, a PhD student at Harvard University, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics database to create an interactive map of jobs, modeled after Dustin Cable’s Racial Dot Map.

Every job in the United States is plotted on this map–or at least all of the jobs enrolled in state unemployment insurance programs and some federal jobs. In total, 96% of civilian wage and salary jobs are included.

Each dot represents one job and is color-coded by industry.

  • Red — Manufacturing and Trade
  • Blue — Professional Services
  • Green — Healthcare, Education, and Government
  • Yellow — Retail, Hospitality, and Other Services


The job clusters of the Golden Triangle between Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati are fairly sizable and easy to see, even zoomed out far enough to view the entire continental country. This high concentration of jobs is good news for our region and demonstrates our competitiveness.

Take a look at the Bluegrass Region and the surrounding area:


A few details that reflect the region’s major employers pop out:

  • Frankfort is mostly green, which is expected from the state capitol.
  • The red area north of Lexington (around Georgetown) is Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Scott County, the second largest employer in the region with 7,900 employees.
  • The red grouping to the east of the city is Lockheed Martin, another major employer with around 1,100 employees.
  • The red grouping near Berea is Tokico (USA) Inc. (Hitachi) in Madison County with 1,350 employees.
  • The red area near Versailles consists of Osram Sylvania Glass Plant, Quad/Graphics, Pilkington North America, Inc., and Yokohama Industries America Inc. in Woodford County. Together these companies employ almost 2,400 people.
  • The red south of Lexington is the Enterprise Industrial Park in Jessamine County.

Lexington has a mix of all four colors and industries, illustrating the city’s healthy economic diversity.


Healthcare, education, and government jobs (green dots) and manufacturing and trade jobs (red dots) are clearly prominent in Lexington.

Education is one of Lexington’s strengths. Just over 40% of Lexingtonians have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 17.2% have a graduate or professional degree, far above the national and state averages. Not surprisingly, the University of Kentucky is the region’s largest employer with 12,430 employees and is primarily represented by a solid block of green in the near-center of the city. Fayette County Public Schools is also a major employer with 5,427 employees spread throughout the city boosting the number of green dots.

Healthcare facilities also sustain a sizeable portion of the workforce in Lexington. Theses jobs appear throughout the city, with large concentrations in the south-center, center, and south-east. In addition to providing an abundance of quality patient care, these centers conduct cutting-edge research and help attract biotech and high-tech companies. Below are a few of the highest healthcare employers:

  • KentuckyOne Health: 3,000 employees
  • Baptist Health: 1,924 employees
  • Veterans Medical Center: 1,565 employees
  • Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital: 1,000 employees

Manufacturing is another major part of Lexington’s economy. The majority of manufacturing and trade jobs are concentrated in the north area of Lexington and include some of the city’s major employers: Lexmark (2,145 employees), (1,200 employees), Trane (1,000 employees), Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co. (750 employees), Webasto Roof Systems (720 employees), Big Ass Solutions (550 employees), and Schneider Electric (500 employees), among others.

The Fayette Mall and Hamburg Pavilion shopping centers are also easily distinguishable.

Maps like this are an excellent tool when planning transportation, housing, emergency routes, city services provision, zoning, and events. By showing the spatial patterns, clusters, and concentrations of industries and jobs, maps offer another way to understand the community’s economy and compare to other cities.

For data nerds, the NAICS codes used are:

  • Red, Manufacturing and Trade – 11 (Agriculture and Forestry), 21 (Mining), 22 (Utilities), 23 (Construction), 31-33 (Manufacturing), 42 (Wholesale Trade), 48-49 (Transportation and Warehousing)
  • Blue, Professional Services – 51 (Information), 52 (Finance and Insurance), 53 (Real Estate), 54 (Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services), 55 (Management of Companies and Enterprises)
  • Green, Healthcare, Education, and Government – 61 (Educational Services), 62 (Health Care), 81 (Other Services – largely Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional, and Similar Organizations)
  • Yellow, Retail, Hospitality, and Other Services – 44-45 (Retail Trade), 56 (Administrative and Support Services), 71 (Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation – largely Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation), 72 (Accommodation and Food Services)

Note: Data represents 2010. 

Kentucky’s Automotive Industry, Part 1: Kentucky, Lexington, and Competition States

Earlier this month, the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association (KAIA) released “The Economic Impact of the Automotive Industry in Kentucky.” This report comprehensively detailed Kentucky’s growing automotive industry, compared Kentucky to competition states, and analyzed the industry’s economic and fiscal impact on the state economy, including jobs and taxes.

Competition states included states that border Kentucky (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) and five southeastern states (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina). These states comprise almost all of the auto manufacturing corridor and house the majority of the country’s auto assembly facilities.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • Kentucky ranks 5th for number of full- and part-time automotive industry employees (2013). Over 85,000 Kentuckians are directly employed by an automotive-related business at one of the 470+ establishments in Kentucky and 136,500 jobs are supported by the automotive industry, including 41,705 in the Lexington Region.
  • Automobile manufacturing pays the 4th highest wage in Kentucky’s manufacturing sector at $58,280, behind computer and electric products manufacturing ($79,490), electrical equipment and appliance manufacturing ($65,180) and primary metals manufacturing ($63,040).
  • Of the 44 automobile assembly plants in the United States, 4 are in Kentucky. These facilities actually put vehicles together and send out the finished product for purchase.  Kentucky produced 1.28 million cars and light trucks in 2014, which is 11.2% of all passenger vehicles produced in the United States and makes Kentucky the third largest automobile producer behind Ohio (13.5%) and  Michigan (20.4%).
  • Although almost all of Kentucky’s finished automobiles were for domestic consumption, Kentucky’s motor vehicles, bodies, trailers, and parts exports totaled $5.9 billion in 2014 and were 21.5% of all Kentucky exports.
  • The Bluegrass Region has 97 auto manufacturing facilities, representing over 20% of all auto-related businesses in Kentucky.

The report also explains how Kentucky has cultivated such a thriving auto industry. Kentucky and Lexington are ideal for auto manufacturing companies and facilities for several reasons. Both have lower overall costs of doing business, easy access to skilled labor, an array of incentives, and Kentucky has the 4th lowest utility costs in the nation at 5.67 cents per kWh. However, the report states that the primary reason is a strategic location.

Kentucky and Lexington are positioned in the center of an auto manufacturing corridor containing 38 of the country’s 44 automobile assembly plants and the hundreds of supporting auto manufacturing facilities. Interstates, highways, and two major rail systems (CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern) enhance Kentucky auto manufacturers’ ability to quickly and easily reach both inputs (parts) and markets.


Measuring from the center of the state, Kentucky has the shortest driving distance to each automotive assembly plant in the eastern United States, averaging 327 miles. Importantly, Lexington is the approximate center of Kentucky (the researchers used Richmond), meaning that Lexington and the Bluegrass Region are the best location for auto manufacturing facilities to minimize transportation costs and quickly reach nearly every actor in the national auto industry.

Clearly, Kentucky’s automotive industry is competitive and among the best in the nation. Next week’s blog will address the fiscal and economic importance of the automotive industry for the state and Lexington.

Note: The KAIA considers the Lexington Region to be the following counties: Anderson, Bath, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Garrad, Harrison, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Montgomery, Nicholas, Owen, Robertson, Scott, and Woodford. As always, Commerce Lexington includes eight counties in the Bluegrass Region: Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Scott, and Woodford. 


Kentucky Horse Sales Rank #1 in Nation at $178 million (2012)



In addition to taking inventory of horses and ponies by county, the quinquennial USDA Census of Agriculture also reports sales. While the sheer number of horses and ponies in Kentucky, the Bluegrass Region, and Fayette County was impressive, the number and dollar amount of horse and pony sales is even more remarkable.

Horse and pony sales in Kentucky totaled $178.34 million in 2012, ranking #1 in the nation and representing 13% of the total national sales.

The Bluegrass Region generated $151 million in horse and pony sales, representing 85% of the total state sales dollars and 32% of the horse and ponies sold.

Fayette County ranked #1 in Kentucky for horse and pony sales at $63.6 million dollars, with 10% of the horses and ponies sold in Kentucky and 36% of the total sales dollars.

Nine counties in Kentucky had more than $1 million dollars in sales in 2012. Of those eight counties, six were in the Bluegrass Region. Even among these high-sales counties, Fayette County still outperformed the closest county by about $20 million, and most by $60 million.


Fayette County ranks second in the nation with $63.6 million in horse and pony sales. The only county in the nation with more horse sales than Fayette County was Marion County, Florida, with $112.8 million in 2012 sales. The next highest sales county behind Fayette County was Maricopa County, Arizona, with only $13.6 million in horse and pony sales.

Fayette County also outsold every state except Florida ($162 million) and Texas ($146.9 million).


Note: The USDA Census of Agriculture surveyed county farmers to report gross value of sales in 2012, and should not reflect sales that occurred at Keeneland by non-Fayette County residents.  

1 Horse = 26.7 People

With the close of Keeneland’s spring racing season and the upcoming Kentucky Derby, it seems appropriate to take a look at horses and the horse industry in Kentucky.

Every five years, the Department of Agriculture produces a Census of Agriculture that comprehensively details the agricultural activity for the country and each state. A previous post in this blog reported findings from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, but the most recent version is from 2012.

The Bluegrass Region is home to 27% of Kentucky’s horses, with 1 horse for every 15.6 people (well above the state average of 1 horse per 30.6 people). Most of the horses are concentrated in Fayette, Bourbon, and Woodford Counties. Fayette County has the most horses by far, but the relatively large number of people in the county increases the people-to-horse ratio (Fayette County has almost as many people as the rest of the seven Bluegrass counties combined). Woodford County has 1 horse for every 2.7 people at 9,100 horses and 24,847 residents. Bourbon County is a close second with 1 horse for every 2.9 people (7,005 horses and 20,004 residents).


Looking at Kentucky more broadly, the following table lists the counties with the most horse farms and the most horses. These eleven counties are home to 36% of the state’s horses and 21% of the state’s farms, and about half of the counties are in the Bluegrass Region. Fayette County has the most horses in the state, although it ranks 8th in terms of the number of people per horse. Of course, there are nearly 300,000 people in Fayette County, almost three times the number of people in the next two most populated counties individually, Hardin and Warren.


Note that the USDA only records data from farms, which the USDA defines as “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.” Thus, small farms that produced and sold less are not included. A previous version of this blog covering the 2007 Census reported that the Kentucky Horse Council estimated that the excluded small farms would add 20% to the number of horses in Fayette County. Following that advice, the number of horses becomes 13,326 and the people to horse ratio becomes 22.3 to 1. However, that’s not much of a change and does not affect the ratio relative to the other counties

Defining Lexington by Its Professional Skill Set

Cities are central to innovation and new technology. They act as giant petri dishes, where creative types and entrepreneurs rub up against each other, combining and recombining to spark new ideas, new inventions, new businesses and new industries. –Richard Florida

The point of cities is multiplicity. – Jane Jacobs

Cities are exciting places and have always been linked closely to new opportunity. They provide concentrated access to knowledge and attract and nurture clusters of workers with  complementary and contrasting skills. Over 107 million LinkedIn members are located in the United States, and by mining the skills and location data in their profiles, research consultants at LinkedIn have developed a map that highlights the skills which define almost every major city in America. To see which skill categories are most uniquely found in Lexington, check out the list below. To view an interactive map – click here.


Top Skill Category: Business

Top Skills:

  • Theology
  • Lean Manufacturing and Quality Management
  • Education and Teaching
  • Healthcare Management
  • Non-profit, Fundraising, and Grant Management
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Ecology & Environmental Science
  • Marketing and Event Management

Some professionals considering their next career move may be interested in an area that has a rich ecosystem of talent in their specialty. Others might want to find places where they’d stand out and offer a unique capability and point of view. According to LinkedIn’s analysis, other cities with a skill mix comparable to Lexington include:

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Columbus, OH
  • Chicago, IL
  • Louisville, KY
  • Mobile, AL
  • Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC
  • Memphis, TN
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

CLX Economic Development Team 

Commerce Lexington Update

  • Global Entrepreneurship Week is this week! Click here to learn more and to view the schedule of events.
  • Lexington’s growing high-tech sector recently added of four companies, bringing 17 new jobs and over $3.3 million in grants and capital investment to Kentucky. Click here to read the press release.
  • Don’t miss Geek’s Night Out! It’s Tuesday, November 18th from 5:00 to 7:00 at Natasha’s. Click here to RSVP.
  • Startup Weekend Lexington 2014 is happening this weekend! Learn more and RSVP for this 54 hour event here.