Federal data: Lexington economy was flat in 2011

ssloan@herald-leader.comFebruary 22, 2013 

The federal government released economic research Friday that suggests that Central Kentucky's economy was flat in 2011.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released data on metropolitan areas and their gross domestic product, a measure of the total value of goods and services produced.

For the Lexington metropolitan area, which includes surrounding towns, GDP that was adjusted for inflation grew just 0.1 percent, from $20.18 billion in 2010 to $20.21 billion in 2011.

That trailed the state's other major metropolitan areas of Louisville and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, which grew 0.7 percent each.

University of Kentucky Sturgill economics professor Ken Troske attributed the Lexington area's performance to a slow year for Toyota, a major employer.

Production that year at the company's flagship plant in Georgetown was 315,239 vehicles, down 15.2 percent from 371,694 in 2010. The drop came as the company was forced to idle assembly lines because of a shortage of parts originating from Japanese factories, which closed in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The company's overall sales also continued to struggle that year because of a spate of recalls.

The GDP number "really reflects the fact that we just didn't see much growth in the auto industry located in this area," Troske said. "It's not just Toyota. When they're not building cars, they're not buying parts, and we have a lot of companies in the area that build parts for Toyota."

Troske said he expects 2012's GDP measure to show growth here, as evidenced by the "much better" employment figures last year.

Nationally, GDP grew in 242 of the country's 366 metropolitan areas in 2011 and was up 1.6 percent on average. That growth rate was lower than the 3.1 percent registered in 2010, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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