The unemployment rates for December were released recently. I expected a spike in the non-adjusted unemployment rate due to both the expected loss of many holiday retail jobs as well as the current recession. What I saw truly surprised me. As you can see below, the unemployment rates for both Louisville (up 1.1%) and the state of Kentucky (up .9%) showed a rapid rise from November to December. In contrast, Lexington unemployment (up .1%) remained relatively flat.
I would never advocate that Lexington is immune to any type of national or state economic crisis. However, Lexington is proving to be surprisingly resilient to the violent economic sturm und drang that is devastating many communities. State governments already facing budget shortfalls are having to cope with the rising costs of providing unemployment insurance. It is an unfortunate reality of a poor economic climate that the very organizations or entities that people turn to in times of crisis are less capable of helping due to their own financial circumstances.
There are many possible explanations as to why Lexington is largely avoiding the state and national chaos surrounding the current recession. A highly educated workforce and a diverse economy are two pillars that are often mentioned in the same sentence as Lexington’s economic health. In reality, with the variety of factors that have kept us treading water thus far, I can honestly say that even if Lexington does start to show more serious signs of economic shutdown, I’d rather be weathering the storm in Lexington’s ship than just about any other boat out on the economic horizon.
The Herald-Leader is already up with a summary of this morning’s 20th Annual Economic Outlook Conference, sponsored by the University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics, Commerce Lexington, The Lane Report, and The Center for Business and Economics Research.
You can find it here: http://www.kentucky.com/103/story/681821.html
The full Kentucky Annual Economic Report that was distributed at the conference can also be found here: http://cber.uky.edu/kentuckyannualreports.asp
My version of the highlights:
Kentucky’s economy is predicted to grow in 2009, albeit at a much weaker pace than it has been (Dr. Troske predicts .5% growth in Kentucky for 2009).
Dr. Troske also expects that Lexington will continue to have a relatively stronger economy than Louisville or Northern Kentucky.
Unemployment rates will continue to rise in 2009, with Louisville and Northern Kentucky continuing to have higher unemployment rates than Lexington.
Prices are declining, even when you take out food and energy. Combined with low interest rates, this should provide some boost to the economy.
Lexington should remain somewhat insulated from the housing price declines due to its position as a population growth area. In economic terms, a growing population will increase demand for houses, which will help offset the abundant supply of houses currently on the market.
For all the ladies of Lexington, congratulations. Lexington was ranked the #8 city in terms of Quality of Life in the Women’s Health Best Cities for 2009. The ranking uses nearly 9,000 pieces of current data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Census Bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, Nielsen-Claritas, and Simmons-Experian.
The men of Lexington have reason to rejoice as well – they were right behind with a #10 ranking. Women’s Health co-crunched data with Men’s Health to ensure that both men and women know that they can live long and happy lives right here in Lexington.
As I am updating our popular Bluegrass Rankings, Lexington continues to rise to the top as a great place to live and work.
In mid 2008, Worldwide ERC