10. Lafayette, La.
>Pct. increase of employed: 8.5%
>Increase in people employed: 11,032 (52nd highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 6.3% (26th lowest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 6.2%(54th lowest)
Despite the fact that the percent of residents employed has increased, the number of unemployed people in Lafayette actually increased as well since the peak of the recession. This is because the labor force, the total number of employed and unemployed people in area, increased overall — 9.8%, the third greatest increase of all metropolitan areas measured, since June 2009. The largest improvement has been in the past 12 months, all but a 1,000 of the 13,400 labor force increase has been since June 2011. A wide array of industries have added jobs in the past year. Employment in the mining and logging industry grew by 17.8% in the past year. Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry’s labor force has grown by 17.1% during the same period, while professional and business services has grown by 14.7%.
9. Naples-Marco Island, Fla.
>Pct. increase of employed: 8.6%
>Increase in people employed: 10,688 (56th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 11.5% (70th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 8.8% (136th highest)
In the past 12 months, the unemployment rate in the Naples-Marco Island metro area dropped from 11% to 8.8%, the ninth largest drop of all 374 metro areas. During that time, the number of employed individuals has risen from 130,000 to 135,537. The biggest job growth during that time was in the leisure and hospitality sector, with 5.6% more people working in the sector year-over-year. Since June 2011, mining, logging and construction industry headcount was down 3.4%. Much of that decline was likely in the construction sector. In Florida, construction jobs have fallen as the state continues to struggle with the housing market bust. Public sector employment in June 2012 was also down 2.4% in the Naples area compared to the prior year.
8. Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.
>Pct. increase of employed: 8.9%
>Increase in people employed: 7,171 (80th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 18.2% (4th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 8.9% (127th highest)
Few metropolitan areas were hit harder by the recession than Elkhart. Known for its manufacturing of recreational vehicles, the area’s unemployment rate shot up to 18.2% by June 2009 when demand for those products dried up. However, companies such as Drew Industries have been bringing back those jobs to the region as demand has recovered. The percentage of people unemployed decreased by 51.1% from June 2009 to June 2012, the second largest drop of all metro areas surveyed. The manufacturing sector, by far the largest employment sector in the area with 54,000 workers as of June 2012, has grown in headcount by 12.7% from the prior year. The manufacturing sector added 7,200 jobs since January 2012 alone.
7. Holland-Grand Haven, Mich.
>Pct. increase of employed: 9.0%
>Increase in people employed: 10,230 (61st highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 13.0 % (38th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 7.2% (110th lowest)
While the labor force in some metropolitan areas on this list grew by nearly 10%, or in some cases even more, the labor force in Holland only grew by 2.7% from June 2009 to June 2012, in the top quarter of all metro areas surveyed. But unemployment has dropped nearly six percentage points from June 2009 to June 2012. In the past year alone, manufacturing headcount has grown 9.1% in Holland, far better than the 3.8% manufacturing growth in Michigan as a whole. Bedroussian of the Milken Institute points out that Holland is known for its furniture manufacturing, which could be in higher demand as the housing market begins to recover. The government sector has also grown 9.2% in the past year, while the entire state has cut 1.5% of jobs in the public sector.
6. Laredo, Texas
>Pct. increase of employed: 9.0%
>Increase in people employed: 7,945 (76th highest)
>June 2009 unemployment rate: 9.6% (168th highest)
>June 2012 unemployment rate: 7.9% (173rd lowest)
Laredo’s labor force has grown from 94,934 people in the peak of the recession to 104,171 people in June 2012, an increase of 9.7%, the fourth biggest increase of all metropolitan areas measured. In the last year alone, the labor force has grown 3.9%, the 14th highest rate of all metro areas. Trade, transportation and utilities, the largest industry by employment numbers in Laredo, was up 6.6% from June 2011 to June 2012, far better than the 2.3% increase in Texas in the same industry. The Milken Institute’s Bedroussian notes that cross-border trading between the U.S. and Mexico has been rising, which is likely playing a role in job creation for the metropolitan area, both in trading and in transportation jobs.