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The top employers, industries in Louisville

We’re known for more than just bourbon.

A 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty® truck sits on a rugged landscape.

Ford is one of the top employers in Louisville.

Photo by Jason Bax

Table of Contents

More than 686,206 people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the LOU metro area’s $74 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about the 502’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Derby City Business 101 — your guide to our region’s five key industries and five major employers.

Note: When we say Louisville metropolitan statistical area, that refers to Jefferson, Oldham, Bullit, Shelby, Spencer, and Henry counties in Kentucky + Floyd, Harrison, and Clark counties in Indiana.

The key industries

There are five key industries that represent ~XX% of the LOU metro area’s economy, based on data from Greater Louisville Inc. We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Healthcare and Aging Innovation | 57,000 employees

The UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a nationally-recognized leader in cancer research and the university itself has received more than $64 million in research funding. Derby City is also known for several medical firsts, like the first self-contained artificial heart implant + first successful hand transplant. If you didn’t know, you know now.

Business Services | 30,000 employees

Need a lawyer, accountant, marketer, or real estate firm? You’ve landed in the right place as this industry is expected to grow 20% in the next 10 years.

Logistics and E-commerce | 84,000 employees

Given that we’re situated within a day’s drive of multiple major cities, Louisville is a natural hub for logistics + e-commerce fulfillment — especially due to the presence of UPS Worldport (more on that later).

Aside from airline cargo transportation, there are 6,800 miles of railroad that run through Kentucky and Indiana.

DYK: 200+ companies have relocated to our region due to UPS.

Advanced Manufacturing | 82,000 employees

With 1,300+ manufacturing firms crafting goods from electrical components to appliances, Louisville has a rich tradition of manufacturing excellence. Zooming out, ~260,000 Kentuckians work in a manufacturing facility.

Food and Beverage | 15,000 employees

For a city that easily competes with New York when it comes to cuisine, we’re not surprised it’s a major industry in the 502. The city’s 125+ food and beverage companies rake in ~$23 billion in revenue — including flavor development firms, producers, and distributors.

The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious for specific names. Whether you’re job hunting (or just “casually prospecting”), here are five major employers.

United Parcel Service

25,090 employees | Logistics | Search jobs

Millions of packages pass through Derby City each day thanks to UPS Worldport at 911 Grade Ln. — the largest fully-automated package handling facility in the world (5.2 million sqft).

Opportunities on the company’s behemoth campus run the gamut from internships to warehouse handling to account executives. Its Earn & Learn Program also provides employees with financial assistance for higher education.

Jefferson County Public Schools

14,484 employees | Education | Search jobs

As the largest school district in Kentucky — and the 30th largest in the country — faculty and staff help mold the minds of ~95,000 students (including me, Sarah). The sprawling district includes 165 schools, 60 magnet schools and programs + 6,890 teachers82 percent of which have a master’s degree or higher.

Norton Healthcare

13,828 employees | Health care | Search jobs

This not-for-profit hospital and health care system runs this town — with six area hospitals and 340+ care locations throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Last year, Norton was named the tenth healthiest workplace in the country.

Ford Motor Co.

13,020 employees | Manufacturing | Search jobs

With two manufacturing facilities in the city — the Kentucky Truck Plant + Louisville Assembly Plant — this automotive maker adds $4.3 billion to the local economy. And the opportunity continues, as Ford’s recently invested $700 million in its Kentucky operations to support the production of its new 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty® truck.

Humana Inc.

12,360 employees | Health insurance | Search jobs

Getting a job at Humana is sometimes called “living the Louisville dream.” It’s the highest ranked Kentucky-based company to make the Fortune 500 list (clocking in at No. 41) + it ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ Just 100 List of America’s best corporate citizens in 2020.

Since the start of the pandemic, Humana has provided 1.6 million meals to 94,000 of its at-risk members.

This information is derived from the most recent data published by Greater Louisville Inc.

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