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Most Nelson Co. residents work outside the county

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By John Singleton

More people are living and working in Nelson County now than they were four years ago.

The Lincoln Trail Workforce Profile showed 29.7 percent of Nelson County residents lived and worked in the same county in May 2018, based on estimates performed by the Kentucky Center for Statistics. The county had an inflow of 23.6 percent and an outflow of 46.7 percent, both to and from other areas and states. 

In a 2015 study produced by the Kentucky Center for Statistics, the number of people who lived and worked in Nelson County was 29.4 percent, a .03 percent difference. 

“Nelson County is fairly typical of any county with a large metro area within commuting distance,” said Lincoln Trail Area Development’s geographic information systems specialist Mike Robinson.

Robinson noted that Nelson County draws employees from adjacent counties, as the study illustrated that 45 percent of its employees commuted from outside the county in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By comparison, Marion County drew 50 percent of its employees from outside the county, and 47 percent of Hardin County’s workers come from outside its borders.

The Lincoln Trail local workforce is made up of those who live and work in the same county, those coming to work and those who work in other areas and states, according to the 2018 report. The profile stated 49.5 percent of the Lincoln Trail workforce lives in the region.

LaRue and Meade counties had more than 60 percent of the people commuting outside the county for work and had an inflow of less than 20 percent. As the most populous county within the Lincoln Trail District, Hardin County has more people who live and work in the same county than any other in the district.

Sherry Johnson, associate director of the Lincoln Trail Area Development District, stated her position on whether she would prefer to have a greater inflow or a smaller outflow within the region. 

“You must have both,” she said. “People may choose to live in a community where the quality of life is more to their liking than another and choose to work outside of that community because employment opportunities may be more plentiful or more suited to their skill sets.”

She said several factors come in to play in making the decision to live and work in the same community — cost of living, quality of life, pay, availability of employment opportunities, transportation, rural versus urban living, taxes, amenities, schools and many more.

Robinson agreed while comparing travel times of other counties. 

He said the average travel time to work for Nelson County residents is 26.2 minutes, which is third-shortest of the eight counties in the region, based on the 2018 report. He noted Marion County is about 20 minutes, Hardin is 22 and Breckenridge is the highest at 31.6 minutes.

“The proximity to Fort Knox, Elizabethtown, Lebanon and Louisville can draw residents to employment outside of the county,” Robinson said. 

Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, said she wants to see a higher number of people living and working in the community in the years to come.

“I hope as we continue to grow and new businesses open in town, that will allow for more opportunities for our residents,” she said.