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The top industries and employers in the Lexington metro area

Learn about the biggest industries and employers in the Lexington metro area with this guide to local business.

An aerial shot of Lexington.

Lexington was listed No. 14 on SmartAsset’s list of Best Places for Career Opportunities. | photo by @thedronerangerky

Table of Contents

More than 685,000 people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Lexington metro area’s $30 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the Horse Capital of the World’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Lexington Business 101 — your guide to our region’s seven key industries and 12 major employers.

Note: When we say the Lexington metro area, that refers to Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Montgomery, Scott, and Woodford counties.

The key industries

There are seven key industries that represent ~72% of the Lexington metro area’s economy, based on data from Commerce Lexington. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Healthcare and social assistance | 14.8% or 52,980 employees
UK Healthcare, Baptist Health, CHI Saint Joseph Health, and Veterans — along with their regional hospitals and offices — take the lion’s share of this sector’s employment.

Manufacturing | 11.8% or 42,275 employees
The Bluegrass Region is home to manufacturing companies such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Lockheed Martin, and Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. This sector also includes some of the highest wage-payers in the area.

Retail trade | 11.3% or 40,502 employees
Think of your favorite local businesses that keep clothes on our backs, and food and books on our shelves.

Educational services | 10.9% or 38,758 employees
While the University of Kentucky and Fayette County Public Schools top the list, surrounding county school systems — Madison, Scott, and Eastern Kentucky University — are also bringing in some big numbers.

Accommodation and food services | 9.7% or 34,626 employees
With classic Kentucky sites and sounds, like bourbon, basketball, and horse racing, it’s no wonder Lexington is booming with boutique hotels, local restaurants, and more.

Administration and support, waste management and remediation | 7.2% or 25,642 employees
In case you forgot, Lexington metro is home to global, digital waste solutions company Rubicon Waste Management.

Public administration | 6.2% or 22,117 employees
When you account for the federal, state, and local employees across all nine counties in the metro area, plus all the government employees within each city, it adds up to a lot.

A bird's eye view of UK's campus.

With over 13,500 people employed by UK, we decided to dig around and see how much you can make working there. | Photo by Mark Cornelison

Mark Cornelison | UKphoto

The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious about specific names. Whether you’re job hunting (or just “casually prospecting”), here are 12 major employers — all that employ more than 5,000 workers on average.

University of Kentucky
15,541 employees | Education, Healthcare | Search jobs
Big Blue Nation takes the No. 1 seed on this list thanks to both the university and the hospital. The University was founded 1865 and is home to 200 academic programs and 16 degree-granting colleges.

Kentucky State Government
11,210 employees | Government | Search jobs
More than just politics, working for the state provides opportunities in nursing, family support, social work, as well as corrections, probation, and parole.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing
9,712 employees | Automotive manufacturing | Search jobs
In its 36 years in Georgetown, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, better known as TMMK, has produced more than 26 million vehicles and engines. It’s also given $147+ million to nonprofit partners across the Commonwealth.

5,727 employees | Distribution | Search jobs
The online retail giant just expanded its footprint by opening a new state-of-the-art facility late last year. The arrival of this delivery station brought hundreds of new full- and part-time jobs.

Fayette County Public Schools
5,620 employees | Education | Search jobs
FCPS services 40,000+ students through 37 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, and six high schools. The school district also has three technical centers and 15 other alternative programs. Check out these updates headed in the near future.

Baptist Health
4,502 employees | Healthcare | Search jobs
You can’t get down Nicholasville Road without passing the sprawling Baptist Health campus. It set down roots locally in 1954 and has been recognized for its heart and cancer care. It’s also expanding with a new Hamburg campus, opening in 2023.

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government
2,884 employees | Government | Search jobs
They do it all. From public safety to parks and recreation, LFUCG helps keep Lexingtonians informed, safe, and moving forward. Pro tip: There are dozens of jobs available, check them out here.

Catholic Health Initiatives
2,621 employees | Healthcare | Search jobs
Known by most as CHI Saint Joseph Health, the hospital system has multiple locations around Lexington.

2,500 employees | Outsourcing | Search jobs
A leader in business process outsourcing, Conduent boasts a client list of 500+ governments and the majority of Fortune 100 companies.

Veterans Medical Center
2,000 employees | Healthcare | Search jobs
Dedicated to our local veterans and their families, the Veterans Medical Center offers primary care as well as specialized care and social support groups.

Lockheed Martin
1,500 employees | Manufacturing-Contractor Support | Search jobs
A leading global security and aerospace company, Lockheed Martin leads the research, design, and implementation of technology systems in four key areas — aeronautics, missiles and fire control, rotary and mission systems, and space.

Lexmark International
1,500 employees | Technology, World HQ | Search jobs
Founded in 1991, Lexmark is a global leader in print hardware, service, solutions, and security — servicing customers in 170+ countries worldwide.

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