Northern Kentucky leads the state in job growth. These industries are why

Northern Kentucky has emerged as the state’s leading engine of job growth.
That’s the bottom line of a new study conducted by consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) for Northern Kentucky Tri-ED.

Between 2015 and 2020, total employment in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties rose by more than 11,000, EY analysts found. In all of Kentucky, employment dropped by more than 42,000 jobs during that time.

The study accounts for the year the pandemic emerged, 2020, and found that the state’s traditional geographic leaders in job growth, the Louisville and Lexington metro regions, both experienced job losses during the period.  

As a result, “the economic momentum enjoyed by Northern Kentucky has no peer within the state,” the study says.

The region’s job growth has been driven by its status as a transportation and logistics hub. Amazon’s $1.5 billion North American air hub, and the growth of DHL’s superhub at the airport. “Northern Kentucky has become a logistics mecca,” EY says.

Companies in the industry cluster created 11,200 jobs during the five-year period. Jobs in the distribution and logistics industry grew so much that its consumption of labor was called out in the study as a potential threat to overall growth in a region already experiencing a labor shortage.

Because of job losses in other sectors, such as government and retail, the number of transportation and logistics jobs created exceeded the net job growth (11,167) during the period.

Tri-ED commissioned the analysis to identify the growing industry sectors to focus its economic development efforts on. The sectors identified by the study are:

Supply chain management and support services. This includes companies in transportation and logistics as well as others in the transport of goods via rail, road, water, and air. It also includes aviation maintenance, logistics management and consulting. Northern Kentucky employment in this industry cluster exceeded the national growth rate by tenfold.

Advanced manufacturing. Transforming raw materials into components and finished products, especially in the aerospace, automotive, and food and flavoring industries. Northern Kentucky’s growth in advanced manufacturing jobs, which generally bring high wages, exceeded the national average by 70%.

Information technology, software, electronics manufacturing.  The region’s employment in this sector grew by more than 20%, twice the national rate.

Life sciences. This includes biomedical research and gene therapy. Job growth in Northern Kentucky doubled, eclipsing the national growth rate.

“Now that we have data on the industries that are driving growth in the region, we will tailor our attraction and workforce development strategies to meet the needs of new and existing companies in these clusters,” says Tri-ED president and CEO Lee Crume.

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