Lexington economy expanding at moderate rate, says bank report

ctruman@herald-leader.comMay 16, 2014 

Aerial photo of downtown Lexington KY. Taken May 24th 2013. Photo by Faron Collins

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The Lexington metro area's economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which serves Central Kentucky.

Lexington benefits from increased construction at the area's largest employer, the University of Kentucky, and expansion at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, said the report's author, reserve bank vice president and senior regional officer LaVaughn Henry.

Henry said in the report that area employment has returned to pre-recession levels as the region continues to benefit from growth in the construction, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services sectors.

However, the report also states that the Lexington area's gross domestic product per capita remained at 7 percent below its pre-recession level.

It also said that the housing recovery in the Lexington area is lagging the nation, but that the area's housing prices never fell as low as that of the national housing market.

The Lexington metro area includes Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Jessamine, Scott and Woodford counties.

Credit card delinquencies in the Lexington area remain lower than those in the nation at large and in line with those throughout Kentucky. The share of credit card balances that were delinquent for 90 or more days was lower in the Lexington area than in the United States, falling back in line with its pre-recession level.

Average weekly earnings in the Lexington area fell from $764 in December 2007 to $720 in January.

"The stagnancy of the recovery in Lexington wages is largely in response to relatively slow growth in the higher-paying manufacturing sector," the report said.

The report draws statistics from a variety of sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real estate website Zillow.com and the Census Bureau, and it includes data from 2012, 2013 and in some cases the first quarter of 2014.

A separate Federal Reserve Bank report on employment in the region said that three metro areas — Lexington; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Columbus, Ohio — had unemployment rates lower than the nation's last year. Cincinnati, Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, Youngstown and Toledo, all in Ohio, had employment rates higher than the nationwide rate.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland serves the Fourth Federal Reserve District, which comprises Eastern and Northern Kentucky, all of Ohio, western Pennsylvania and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Not included in the district is Louisville, which is served by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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