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We're No. 61! Lexington's population surpasses 310,000 in latest U.S. Census report

Downtown Lexington
Downtown Lexington Lexington Herald-Leader

Lexington keeps growing, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates released Thursday.

Lexington-Fayette County's population was 310,797 as of July 1. That's almost 15,000 more people than the 295,803 recorded in the 2010 U.S. Census.

The increase bumped Lexington's ranking to 61st among the nation's cities, up from 62nd in 2013.

Mayor Jim Gray said the city "boasts a high quality of life, great schools and a wide range of job opportunities, so it's not surprising more folks are choosing to call Lexington home. Even as our population grows, Lexington's jobless rate has remained among the lowest in the state and well below the national average."

Louisville's population is 612,780. The Derby City grew by 15,515 since 2010.

Among the 50 largest cities in the country, Louisville dropped two places since 2013, from 28th to 30th.

Matthew Ruther, director of the Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville, said, "We've sort of known these estimates already. The gains from last year or from the last couple of years are just pretty steady."

Don't read too much into the fact that Lexington's population grew by 5.1 percent and Louisville's by 2.6 percent from 2010 to 2014, he said.

"You're talking about two places that are extremely different in size," Ruther said. "Louisville is at least double the population of Lexington, so as it gets bigger, it's more likely that the percentage changes are going to be going down. I don't think you can read that people are showing a distinct preference for Lexington versus Louisville."

Ruther said the total population of Jefferson County is in the range of 740,000 to 750,000, but the census doesn't include residents in the dozens of independent cities such as St. Matthews and Jeffersontown in the count of what it calls Louisville-Jefferson County.

"We consider Louisville to be the whole Jefferson County, the whole metro area," Ruther said. "But the census takes those independent cities like St. Matthews and Jeffersontown out of the numbers when they calculate the actual city population."

Bowling Green, home to the Corvette assembly plant and Western Kentucky University, continues to gain population.

Kentucky's third-largest city grew 6.1 percent from 2010, to 62,479 residents.