Acadiana Business

Forbes: Lafayette best mid-size city for job growth

by Leslie Turk

The highly regarded business magazine reports this month that Lafayette is not only first in job growth in the mid-size category, but it's also No. 4 overall. Forbes magazine says Lafayette's job growth rate of 5.2 percent makes it not only No. 1 in job growth among mid-size cities but also No. 4 among all metro areas.

The magazine ranked all 398 current metropolitan statistical areas based on employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from November 2000 through January 2012. Rankings are based on recent growth trends, mid-term growth, long-term growth and the region's momentum. Forbes also broke down rankings by size, noting that regional economies differ markedly due to their scale.

Forbes' recent ranking has Lafayette the top mid-city for job growth and No. 4 overall.

For the mid-size cities list that Lafayette topped, it ranked the 91 MSAs that each have employment rolls between 150,000 and 450,000.

According to the respected business pub:

Instead of government, the big drivers of growth now appear to be three basic sectors: energy, technology and, most welcome all, manufacturing. Energy-rich Texas cities dominate our list - the state has added some 200,000 generally high-paying oil and gas jobs over the past decade - but Texas is also leading in industrial job growth, technology and services. In first place in our ranking of the 65 largest metropolitan areas is Austin, which has logged strong growth in manufacturing, technology-related employment and business services. Houston places second, Fort Worth fourth, and Dallas-Plano-Irving sixth. Another energy capital, Oklahoma City, ranks 10th, while resurgent New Orleans-Metairie places 13th among the largest metro areas.

The strong growth of the energy sector, and Texas, is even more evident in our overall ranking, which includes many small and medium-sized metropolitan areas. The top 10 fastest growers overall include such energy-centric places as No. 1 Odessa, Texas; second-place Midland, Texas;  Lafayette, La. (fourth place); Corpus Christi, Texas (sixth), San Angelo, Texas (seventh); and Casper, Wyo. (10th).
View the full report here.

In other positive economic news for Lafayette this month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis' latest figures reveal that Lafayette Parish's per capita income in 2010 was $43,733 - an increase of $1,402 or 3.3 percent for every resident in the parish.

Lafayette Parish is ranked in the top 9 percent of all parishes and counties in the U.S. - 282 out of 3,138 - putting the community near the top of a list that many site selectors, business professionals and entrepreneurs study.

"Per capita income is a significant measurement of the quality of our economy. By measuring the community's affluence, PCI serves as an important tool in LEDA's business attraction efforts," Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, says of the increase. "With an affluent population, Lafayette has a greater ability to attract high-end retailers, develop a broad spectrum of housing options and maintain the variety of goods and services already in place in the community."

Lafayette's per capita income outpaced state and national growth of 2.4 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. Local PCI remains above state and national figures. For 2010, Louisiana's PCI was $37,039 and the U.S.'s was $39,937.

BEA also released 2010 total personal income numbers - a comprehensive measure of the income of all persons from all sources. Those numbers are also on the rise in Lafayette Parish, outperforming national growth. In Lafayette Parish, total personal income increased 4.6 percent. Nationally, personal income in medium-sized counties and parishes like Lafayette grew 3.6 percent.

Also, a study released in February by Sentier Research and published in the Wall Street Journal noted that the Lafayette MSA saw the largest increase in median annual household income between 2005 and 2010. Household income in the MSA increased 12.2 percent, rising to $47,000.

Read more about Lafayette's economy in the next issue of ABiz May 31, where we will recap Gothreaux's State of the Economy presentation and discuss in detail Lafayette's Economic Performance Index.