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Press Release

Sharp decline in unemployment rate punctuates Lexington’s post-recession recovery

The Lexington area’s unemployment rate fell sharply in the last 6 months to its lowest level in a decade

The unemployment rate in the Lexington area fell to its lowest rate in the last decade in January giving it the second lowest rate in Kentucky. The sharp decline from 4.2 percent in August 2017 to 3 percent in January 2018 was the fastest such decline since 2014 and places Lexington behind only the Evansville, IN-KY metro area in terms of the rate of unemployment.

“In general, the metro area has been able to recover from the recession at a faster rate than both the state and the nation,” said the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Gary Wagner and Mary DeStefano. By September 2017, employment levels in Lexington were 9.4 percent higher than before the Great Recession, compared to just 3.9 percent higher in Kentucky and 6 percent higher in the US.

The Lexington area’s financial activities sector experienced the fastest employment growth rate, increasing 1.6 percent from September 2016 to September 2017. “Although the financial activities sector constitutes only 3.5 percent of employment in the metro area, its growth is welcome because its average annual private salary is about 57 percent higher than the average private salary for the metro area,” said Wagner.

As overall employment increased by 0.8 percent in the same period, all but one of Lexington’s major business sectors, professional and business services, saw growth. Government added the largest number of jobs at nearly 1,000, while the area’s largest business sector, trade, transportation, and utilities, added more than 500.

For more insights on economic conditions in the Lexington area, see our latest Lexington Metro Mix.

And browse through our Region, for data, maps, research, and other information related to the diverse economies and communities in the region served by the Cleveland Fed: Ohio, eastern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479