Lafayette, Louisiana led the nation in annual percentage gains in employment in May 2012, up 10.5 percent from a year earlier, according to recently released Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Columbus, Indiana and Odessa, Texas rounded out the top three metro areas for annual employment growth on a percentage basis.

By the numbers, the New York metro area posted the greatest gain in annual employment, with an increase of 107,800 jobs compared to May 2011.  Houston, Los Angeles, and Dallas also saw significant increases in employment over the past year.

On the unemployment side, Yuma, Arizona and El Centro, California switched places for the highest and second-highest unemployment rates in the nation compared to last month.  Yuma posted an unemployment rate of 28.9 percent for May, while El Centro posted a 26.8 percent unemployment rate.

Two North Dakota cities – Bismarck and Fargo – posted the lowest unemployment rates for May, at 2.5 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.

Want to learn more about employment and unemployment trends in your metro area?  Visit’s Metro Area Employment index to access links to employment data for all U.S. metro areas.