Looking for good news in employment trends? June data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) points to annual nonfarm payroll employment growth in 268 of 372 U.S. metro areas – which translates to a positive trend in around 72 percent of the nation’s metro areas.

With an annual growth rate of 10.2 percent, the Lafayette, Louisiana metro area posted the largest gain on percentage basis.

“Over the past year, employment growth in the Lafayette metro area has been seen across all industry sectors, and is not necessarily attributable to a single industry or situation,” according to Stacey Strodtman Zawacki, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA)

Since the start of 2012, the metro area has posted the largest month-to-month growth in the mining (oil and gas) and healthcare industries – its two largest employing industries, she said. “The region has also seen a significant increase in manufacturing, services, and hospitality jobs compared to 2011.”

Two Indiana metro areas – Columbus and Muncie – rounded out the top three, with growth rates of 9.5 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively. Anecdotal evidence points to a jump in Columbus’ employment growth due to strength in its manufacturing sector.

On a numeric basis, the three metro areas with the largest year-over-year employment gains were: New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, and Houston-Sugarland-Baytown.

In other good employment news, unemployment rates were down in June in 328 metro areas compared to June 2011, according to the BLS release. Unemployment rates were lower than 7.0 percent in June 2012 in 94 metro areas, compared to 57 metro areas last June.

Bismarck, North Dakota continues its reign as the metro area with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at just 2.8 percent.

On the flip side, El Centro, California and Yuma, Arizona continue to post the highest unemployment rates in the country, at 28.2 percent and 27.9 percent, respectively.