5. Gainesville, Ga.
> Employed pct. increase: 5.38%
> Total employed increase: 4,501
> Workforce: 94,433
> Unemployment rate: 6.6%
As of October, Gainesville’s unemployment rate was just 6.6% — more than 1 percentage point lower than the national unemployment rate of 7.9% that month. Over the course of a year, through October 2012, Gainesville has added roughly 4,500 jobs. Not only is Gainesville’s labor force larger than in any period since 1990, also 1,000 fewer resident were unemployed in October compared to the same month a year ago. In October, Kit Dunlap, the president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, told the Gainesville Times that the area benefited from increased manufacturing activity, a convenient location for commercial transporters, and a strong pro-business climate.
4. Rocky Mount, N.C.
> Employed pct. increase: 5.53%
> Total employed increase: 3,428
> Workforce: 74,095
> Unemployment rate: 11.7%
While the unemployment rate in the Rocky Mount area was still a very high 11.7% as of October, it was down considerably from the 14.0% in the same month last year as the number of employed people increased by 3,400 from the same month a year ago. Trade, transportation and utilities, the largest employment sector in the metro area, grew a sizable 7.8% between October 2011 and the year-later period. Other industries have been growing as well. For instance, drug maker Hospira announced plans in August to add 200 more jobs to its workforce of 2,400 in the area.
3. Pascagoula, Miss.
> Employed pct. increase: 5.68%
> Total employed increase: 3,709
> Workforce: 75,343
> Unemployment rate: 8.5%
Although Pascagoula’s unemployment rate of 8.5% in October was higher than the national rate of 7.9%, it was still below Mississippi’s 8.9%. The largest job growth came in the mining, logging and construction sector, with a 28.6% increase in headcount compared to October 2011. A relatively large portion of Pascagoula’s labor force works in farm jobs. Due to the seasonal nature of farm jobs, the area’s monthly unemployment fluctuates considerably.
2. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Va.
> Employed pct. increase: 7.17%
> Total employed increase: 5,804
> Workforce: 91,985
> Unemployment rate: 5.6%
Joblessness in the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metro area has fallen significantly in the past several months. The unemployment rate of 5.6% in October was down from a yearly high of 7.2% just three months earlier — more than 8% more jobs were available in October compared to July. City officials have credited Virginia Tech for directly and indirectly boosting jobs. However, manufacturing has also boomed in the area, with companies such as Phoenix Packaging and Aeroprobe Corporation moving jobs into the region.
1. Lafayette, La.
> Employed pct. increase: 9.68%
> Total employed increase: 13,127
> Workforce: 152,720
> Unemployment rate: 4.2%
More job growth took place in Lafayette than any other metro area in the country. Some of the new employment growth comes from new part-time positions in the restaurant and retail sector. But Anthony Greco, a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, recently told a local newspaper, the Town Talk, that most of the new jobs in the area are well-compensated professional positions, notably in the financial sector. Lafayette has been a haven for the oil and gas industry, and with rising gas prices have come new jobs. Headcount for trade, transportation and utilities, the largest sector in the area, grew 7.4%.